Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries! To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.
The day that turns a life upside down usually starts like any other, but what happens the day after? Dual Walkley Award-winner Leigh Sales investigates how ordinary people endure the unthinkable.
As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next?
In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows.
Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.
The Walkley Book Award recognises high achievement in non-fiction and long form journalism. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales was the winner of the 2019 Walkley Award, which follows her 2012 Walkley Award for online reporting, along with her 2005 best radio current affairs reporting award. Any Ordinary Day explores loss, trauma and tragedy, with an emphasis on the aftermath of these tragic events. Any Ordinary Day opens up an enlightening conversation about traumatic moments and great loss, reminding us of the strength of the human spirit to endure – in the face of adversity.
Journalist Leigh Sales has been exposed to many different situations that have sadly been the most horrific and unforgettable days in a person’s life. Not only has Sales experienced her own trauma first hand, she has often been first on the scene to report the heartbreaking stories in the media that we cannot shake. These include the Thredbo disaster and the Café Lindt siege. In this process, Sales ponders her own beliefs and mortality, along with the hard statistics around the probability of trauma. Speaking first hand to those who have directly experience terrorism, unexpected loss and natural disasters, Sales’ approach is close and trusted. Despite the randomness of these events and the unfairness of it all, hope emerges as a core theme. Any Ordinary Day is a symbol of strength, overcoming hard times and bravery.
A friend of mine listened to the audio book version of Any Ordinary Day and highly recommended this book to me. When I was alerted to the fact that this book won the 2019 Walkley Book Award, I was able to use this as an opportunity to mark off the final category of Book Bingo 2019, a ‘prize winning book’.
I found Any Ordinary Day to be quite unique and I have to say, I don’t think I have come across a book like this before. On the one hand it offers a rich journalistic exploration into tragedy, but on the other hand, Any Ordinary Day is also a very personal meditation on Sales’ own belief system in relation to trauma. This is a poised investigation into the elasticity of the human spirit. At times it will induce tears and heartbreak. At other times Any Ordinary Day will bring semblance and hope.
Any Ordinary Day begins with the personal trauma experienced by Leigh Sales directly when she gave birth to her second son. I was able to connect and empathise this story very easily, having also experienced my own traumatic labours. In relaying her experiences, it became apparent to me that the process of writing and reflecting on her own trauma was very cathartic for Sales. It also reminds us that no one is immune from trauma, it can happen anywhere and at any time, we must brace ourselves for the precarious nature of life.
Following her own reflections, which she bravely shares, Sales puts on her reporting hat. Sales reflects on a number of key headline events that she was directly involved in reporting to the public. Via interviews with a range of people at the front line of some of our country’s most defined and traumatic events, we travel to the heartbreaking core of these life changing days. From the Lindt Café disaster, to the Port Arthur massacre and Theredbo, each figure or event is outlined with honesty and professional integrity. I found each story merged well into the other, which is interspersed with reflections by Sales.
For me, I was personally moved by the story of Matt Richell, who passed away in tragic surfing accident. Sales collaborated with Richell’s widow, Hannah, one of my favourite writers on this piece, which visibly moved me to tears. However, Hannah’s altered mindset following the loss of her husband and her courage inspired me. I also found some of the most enlightening aspects of Any Ordinary Day came from those on the front line, who we often forget when we cast out minds back to these traumatic events. From the police offers, lifeguards, counsellors, morgue workers and a priest, Sales draws on a variety of perspectives to complete her investigations. Furthermore, Sales draws on opinion, from the former Prime Minister John Howard, along with a variety of statistical and research information, which gives further footing to Any Ordinary Day.
Twenty two pages of notes supporting Any Ordinary Day, provides us with a good indication of just how much research went into the production of this book. In addition, the concept of post–traumatic growth, a term I had not encountered prior to this book, raised my awareness of this changed mindset, which is the product of adversity. This psychological mind shift is an important process experienced by many of the main subjects in this book and I found it deeply profound.
Any Ordinary Day offers a balanced approach to trauma, loss, grief and the unexpected. This moving book provides an extensive examination into the impact of tragedy on the human spirit. Leigh Sales’ third book is undeniably emotional, hard hitting, life affirming and hopeful. Above all, Any Ordinary Day is a novel for all Australians, warning us about the fragility, as well as the unexpected nature of our day to day existence.
**** 4 stars
Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales was published on 1st October 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Any Ordinary Day is book #147 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
B-I-N-G-O and that’s a wrap for Book Bingo 2019! What a wonderful journey it has been! Thank you to my fellow book bloggers Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse for sharing this journey with me, along with all the other bloggers, as well as readers that supported Book Bingo this year. Look out for my full run down of Book Bingo 2019 next round and do join me on December 21st for my complete wrap up post!
~ Mrs B