See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill. In 2014, young Luke Batty was bashed to death, in broad daylight, by his father. The nation was shocked into having a closer look at domestic abuse, which had tended to be relegated to the too-hard basket. Jess Hill made the courageous decision to examine as much factual material as she could find on this subject, to better understand what was actually going on.
Okay, nobody reads about domestic abuse for fun. So buckle up and be prepared, if you read this one, to find out about these things:
- The various acts that constitute abuse
- The nature of the abusive mind
- The central importance in male lives of shame, as a motivating factor
- How children are impacted by domestic abuse
- When women use violence
- Fixing it.
The book is impressive in that it looks dispassionately at evidence across a broad front, so the conclusions it draws can be trusted. I also think that it will give clarity and recognition to the many who are currently suffering under a regime of abuse.
The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers. And it’s odd, how sometimes the books you are reading align themselves on an axis you weren’t aware was there. Seventeen-year-old Miki lives with her older brother Kurt, in a small Tasmanian town on the edge of old-growth forest. The house they had lived in with their orchardist parents had accidentally burned down, taking the parents with it; so now Miki and Kurt run a takeaway café in town. Miki has never had the opportunity to go to school; she was home-schooled by ultra-religious parents who thought she should be ‘protected’ from the world at large. This virtual imprisonment continues, with Kurt (surly, controlling and secretive) as her jailer. But she reads, and thinks, and strives not to be the victim that her life so far has set her up to be. Meanwhile, town politics is dominated by the loggers-versus-Greenies conflict, sadly a constant theme in Tasmania. People in the community find their lives skewed by it, but as in any town, there are cross-currents, as everyone looks for ways to negotiate their lives. I like the way Viggers manages the several thematic threads interweaving here. And I like the compassion that links all together.