This novella by Simone Lazaroo is a heart-felt, lonely and sad yet uplifting story of a young mother, Ruth Joiner, preparing for her death and preparing for her daughter’s life after she passes from the mortal coil that encases us. This, Lazaroo’s fourth novel, is a long and varied array of fictional and academic writing for Murdoch University, and is set in the fictional town, Lost River, situated on the South West Coast of Australia. It takes the reader on a journey back through Ruth’s life as an adopted child of missionaries, and explores her desire to discover her Balinese roots.
Through the birth of her daughter Dewi and their life together, through flashbacks to her life on the mission, and through the friends she makes along the way that help her to cope and raise a daughter, Ruth eventually finds the road to begin to discover who she really is in this world and what it is that has made her who she is. Lazaroo’s depiction of the relationship between Australia and Bali (and Asia more broadly) and how Australians see the Balinese is a stark reminder of the White Australia Policy and how racism works in this country.
This book was unlike those on my regular reading list, but I enjoyed it. When I picked it up, I was unsure of what to expect, as I often am with new books, and was pleasantly surprised. I felt for Ruth and Dewi along their journey through life, wanting to reach out and help them. My heart broke at certain points in this story, without giving too much away to future readers. The novella was well-crafted and very well researched. I felt transported to Lost River, to Bali, to all the locations that Lazaroo places Ruth and Dewi. I ate and played with them and held Dewi’s hand as she struggled. I felt the judgement of those who judged them harshly. I felt their pain. The author is gifted in her ability to in to evoke strong emotion in her book, and it is one that I will be recommending to friends and keeping on my shelf.
Ashleigh Meikle is an aspiring writer, avid reader and has degrees in English and History and is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Professional Communications.