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Child trafficking is not a typical subject for a Young Adult book, but Zana Fraillon has perfectly portrayed this issue in her latest release, The Ones That Disappeared. Following her Carnegie Medal-shortlisted The Bone Sparrow, Fraillon tells the story of three children, Esra, Miran and Isa, who dream of returning home.
Esra, Miran and Isa belong to the Snakeskin gang, and have brandings on their wrist representing their lack of freedom. The children are responsible for the maintenance of marijuana plants in a home they cannot escape from. They are exposed to all kinds of cruelty, including beatings and chemical poisoning. Following an accident which destroys the marijuana plants they are accountable for, Esra, Miran and Isa flee their prison.
The Ones That Disappeared is told through the eyes of the children, enhancing the emotional and heartwrenching aspects of the story. The book not only communicates survival, but also hope and courage.
Without glamourising the issue, Fraillon has beautifully composed a necessary depiction of human trafficking, shining a light on the dangers and struggles faced by these children.
"I am nowhere near as brave as people believe me to be. As a writer, armed with words, I can do anything, but when I have to take my body out into the world, courage fails me."
Powerful quotes like this one are abundantly strewn throughout Hunger, Roxane Gay’s intimate, heartbreaking, honest and raw memoir about her body. Gay talks about her daily struggles with moving through the world as an obese person, and what led her to find comfort and solace in food: one devastating act of violence that changed her life forever at the tender age of 12.
While difficult to read about Gay’s personal challenges at times, her willingness to lay bare her darkest thoughts about that horrifying day, and society's cruelty towards obese women, is truly inspiring. Gay writes with a vulnerability that I have never witnessed before.
I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for Gay to pour out her entire heart and soul into this memoir, but she has done a superb job of empowering survivors of eating disorders and various forms of assault, encouraging those to use their stories to create.
To say that I highly recommend this memoir is the understatement of the century. I have loved every single one of Gay’s works, but Hunger definitely stands out as my favourite so far. Very much looking forward to her next one!
#GIRLBOSS is a refreshingly honest account from Sophia Amoruso, an entrepreneur who built her own fashion empire from scratch and with pocket change. A self-professed high school dropout, Amoruso shares her journey from rags to riches with the founding of Nasty Gal, a multi-million dollar retail business. In the process, Amoruso touches on ideas of creativity, business, and personal morals and ideals.
What I absolutely loved about this book is Amoruso's honest voice. When asked about how they have achieved success, most people would respond with something along the lines of “It all comes down to luck." But Amoruso shares that her success is all hard-earned, and not merely the fabric of luck. One of Amoruso’s key messages in this book is that part of what made her and her brand so successful hinges on the mistakes she has made. Not only are they learning opportunities, but most often the coolest people are those off the beaten path.
As someone who is interested in how successful businesses have come to be (especially when they are created by women), I loved reading about how Amoruso created the idea of Nasty Gal, as well as the growth and evolution of the business in her eyes, rather than in business terminology. While Amoruso talks heavily about the fashion industry, non-fashion forward readers should still read this if they’re looking for a bit of motivation and inspiration.
This isn't a self-help book; it’s a memoir with some advice to GIRLBOSSes. So if you're going into this thinking you'll learn how to start a business, you're wrong. Amoruso is simply giving that motivational push while telling her own relatable story about taking risks and doing what we personally think is right for our lives.
#GIRLBOSS has taught me that #GIRLBOSSes aren't superhuman. They're just like you and me.
In the next instalment of our “We Love to Imagine” illustration series, we meet Jeff from Victoria!
“Our Dad has worked as a teacher, nurse and midwife, and spent many years in mental health care and support work for people with disabilities. He has seen and done a lot in his 70 years. He has a little more 'spare' time these days, so more time for reading! He is not at all squeamish and enjoys a gory novel.
He is also a grandfather and looks after our son while we work, often trying to find a moment or two to read a few pages of whatever book he is in the middle of.
We have four cats who he enjoys playing with. He's a very family oriented man who loves nothing more than some chocolate, a cup of tea, his family around, and a good book!”
Please send us an email at email@example.com if you would like to be featured in our next instalment of “We Love to Imagine”!
When a book is recommended by the former president of the United States of America, you know it’s a winner. Barack Obama described Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad with one word (“Terrific”), and I wholeheartedly agree with this endorsement.
The Underground Railroad tells the story of Cora, an African American slave at a Georgia plantation in the antebellum South. When a fellow slave tells her about the underground railroad, she finds the courage to run for her freedom. Thus begins her odyssey as a runaway slave, where her adventures introduce her to unprecedented horrors and lead her to disheartening realisations.
The core metaphor of The Underground Railroad is very powerful. On one level it signals early in the novel that this story is not meant to be taken literally, which allowed a lively revisionist history to bloom as the chapters progress. On another level, the railroad feels like so much more than a metaphor. To imagine a real railroad dug by African American hands and kept secret from their white enslavers is a slap-in-the-face reminder of the extraordinary accomplishments of African American slaves. By making this impossible railroad real, Whitehead forces readers to acknowledge just how unbelievable and extraordinary the true history of African American resistance really is.
While this was a tough read, it was also an incredibly worthy one. Whitehead deserved the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
It's not often that a book resonates with me so much that I feel as though it was written for me personally. This is one such book. From the very first page, Delphine de Vigan’s Based on a True Story captured my attention and did not let go. But what is truth? And what is fiction? Many readers around the world, including myself, have been left in the dark when it comes to these questions.
The narrator of the book is an author named Delphine (just like the real author) who has recently published a successful autobiography. She has subsequently fallen into a depressive state, resulting in an inability to put pen to paper to write a new novel.
Delphine then meets “L.”, a woman who quickly becomes an integral part of her life. L. is mysterious, elusive, and gradually creeps further and further into Delphine's life to the point that the book becomes very reminiscent of Stephen King's Misery. Based on a True Story tells of the claustrophobic relationship which rapidly develops between Delphine and L., and becomes a philosophical two-hander between the two women as they debate the nature of truth and fiction, and how much a writer should reveal of oneself in their work.
This thriller will have you in sheer and utter shock at the end, and will leave you asking more questions days after you finish the last page. I was thrilled to find out that de Vigan's masterpiece is currently being adapted for film, with the director set to be the one and only Roman Polanski. I have my fingers crossed that my unanswered questions will be revealed in the film!
We wrote a piece for The Sydney Morning Herald's My Small Business on Amazon's impending arrival into Australia (and what it means for small business).
Read the full article here.