November 13

No Place Like Home by Caroline Overington

I could not wait to get my hands on this book after reading a couple of the author’s books over the past month – most notable her non-fiction work about living in New York as a Correspondent (Jolly Good read!).  I nearly yelped in the book shop when I found it and could not wait to scurry home and sink my teeth into it.

So how was it?  Is it weird to have read it and I am still unsure if I liked it or not?  I read it in great gulping chunks. Finished it. Just can’t say what I thought of it. I know my heart hurts a little thinking about it.  There is something that I can’t quite pin-point so apologies folks but I will be using this blog as a psychology session of sorts, so I might ramble trying to dissect the reader experience .  Just bear with me…..

The book finds it voice through a police chaplain – nice guy – who finds himself as part of the police operation at a seige in a large shopping centre.  A young man from Tanzania has a bomb around his neck and is locked in a lingerie shop with five hostages.  You hear from every single person in the story – each one of them has a very distinct voice.  Except Ali Khan who happens to have the bomb attached to him.  You hear so much about him but you do not hear a single whisper from him.

It has been a good fortnight since I read this book and now, revisiting it, and remembering this young man makes me feel blue.  Is that what it is??  Was it profound sadness that brought on a vastness of hopelessness in this book??  Maybe that is what it is.  I finished it and just felt So.Incredibly.Empty.

This book is a tragic tale.   Remembering Ali Khan and his story actually brings a black cloud of despair into my wee office this morning.  So did Ms Overington do a good job in conceiving the story to bring to light so many issues facing Australia today? She packs a punch as the following, in no particular order, is tossed about – refugees, assylum seekers, racism, government, hope, discrimination & fate.   I won’t go into detail about how she does of this but she is clever, no doubt about it.  Her style is part news article, part storytelling, part police report – all mashed together.

In the end, she left me feeling like an empty shell which is I imagine how poor Ali Khan felt on that fateful day and for many days before……so I felt exactly how she wanted me to feel.

Would I recommend it for a Book Club? Absolutely!  Politics, human rights and right and wrong – it’s all in here so pop it on your list.

That is my 2 cents worth and thanks for the counseling session…..I feel much better now. I think.