Update on “What Now for Manus?”

Last week I sent an email to some Parliamentarians as part of my personal actions in support of the men on Manus.

A spokesperson/ staffer/ etc. has got back to me from one of them. Below is the email he wrote and the one I sent back after I’d read it.

Stupid wedge politics.

His email:

Dear Clare,

Thank you for writing to the Shadow Minister about refugees in PNG following the closure of the former Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have been woefully incompetent in their management of offshore processing arrangements – including failing to be upfront from the start about access to essential services at alternative accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees.

The standoff at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if the Turnbull Government didn’t wait until the last minute to finalise ongoing arrangements in PNG.

Following the transfer of refugees from the closed Manus Island RPC to alternative accommodation, Malcolm Turnbull has a moral obligation to ensure refugees have access to essential services including food, water, security, health and welfare services.

Manus Island and Nauru were set up as regional transit processing facilities but have become places of indefinite detention because of Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton’s failure to negotiate other third country resettlement options.

Labor strongly supports the US refugee resettlement agreement and has called on Malcolm Turnbull to work with the US to expedite the resettlement process.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have put all their eggs in one basket with the US agreement and have failed to secure other third country resettlement arrangements.

It’s extremely disappointing Malcolm Turnbull has failed to show leadership and accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle eligible refugees from both Manus Island and Nauru.

Of course, there would need to be conditions on any resettlement deal with NZ in the same way there are conditions on the US arrangement.

Malcolm Turnbull needs immediately begin to negotiate the New Zealand and other viable third country resettlement options to get eligible refugees off Manus Island and Nauru as soon as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Shadow Minister on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Dunlop

The Hon Shayne Neumann MP | Federal Member for Blair

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

My response:

Hi there,

Thanks for answering my email. I’m still left feeling a bit dissatisfied.

In my original email I asked certain questions, namely: “Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why [was] the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices?”

Are there any answers for these?

Thank you.

 

We’ll see what happens.

Advertisements

“Much Ado About Nothing” at the Pop-Up Globe

The above is a YouTube clip I grabbed from a link on the Pop-Up Globe’s Facebook page.

The Pop-Up Globe is currently in Melbourne, with an extended season until the end of January. Last night, as I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Much Ado About Nothing there.

It was really really fun. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but once I’d got over that it was really good. The cast performed their roles really well.

An interesting element was added by the structure of the auditorium. Those in the standing-room-only section at the front were put in the position of a “chorus” if you will – the players made entrances through them, used them to hide, or conversed with them. If you were in the very front part, you also had to risk having things like partially chewed food splattered on/near you! (I’m glad we were in the next section up!)

Below are some photos I took. I recommend the experience highly -but get in quickly!

 

What are you up to?

Guess what – according to WordPress, I’ve been blogging for three years exactly as of yesterday. Hooray!

 

It’s getting to that busy time of year again, isn’t it?

Melbourne is quite a big city – and I really feel that when my weekend involved going from the north-east to the south-east on Friday, then from there to my regional hometown on Saturday before going back to the south-east on Sunday. Yep, it was one of those weekends. Lots of fun stuff with a bit of work/ business thrown in.

Quite a few people had their eyes turned northwards on Saturday through to Sunday as QLD voted. I know people up there and given a couple of the major election issues were pertinent to my interest, I paid attention too. Then today I spied this article – one Queenslander’s opinion of the election. Interesting! I’m curious about what the Queenslanders in my life think about it.

Lately, I’ve been reading a book about General Sir John Monash. I put a hold on it after the concert I participated in in September. I have to admit, I had songs from the September concert running through my head during parts of the book. The book is called, “Maestro John Monash: Australia’s Greatest Citizen General” and is by Tim Fischer, former deputy PM of Australia. Fischer gives a good overview of Monash’s life, focusing on his activities during WWI but not neglecting his other achievements, pre- and post-war. The book has been written with an agenda – Fischer believes that Monash was discriminated against while he was alive, and denied an active service promotion to General due to this (his promotion came a year before his death). The book also maintains that Monash is not properly recognised now. Actually, that’s really the main purpose of Fischer’s book. So I’m going to read another book about the General from a different author when I get the chance as well.

I’m keeping busy organising choir things. LaTUCS have a carolling gig at a Christmas Fair that’s near uni this Saturday then another one at uni the following Thursday. If you’re in the area, why not come along to Saturday’s one? Details in the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/816640598506065/

Another thing that’s keeping me on my toes and will only ramp up from now until January is MIV2018. There are six weeks and two days until Thursday, January 11th 2018, when the festival opens. The concert is just under two months away…and tickets are on-sale! 😀     Click on the link for more info: https://www.miv.org.au/concert.
Meanwhile, I’m putting the details into plans of how to keep 100+ registrants entertained. Hee hee!

Ooh and finally… I’m going to the Pop-Up Globe this evening to see Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and I can’t wait! 😀

 

Beef meat roll

A while back I read a recipe online that sounded really interesting so I decided I’d try it out.

I halved and further adapted this recipe and it was really yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 500g minced meat (I used beef)
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ham
  • cheese
  • carrot strips
  • spring onion
  • extra veg if desired, to serve.

Tools:

  • aluminium foil
  • oven tray
  • mixing bowl

Method:

  1. Mix the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, etc. in a bowl.
  2. Lay the mixture out on an aluminium foil-lined oven tray.
  3. Then start layering!

Uncooked unrolled beef roll is laid out on foil on an oven tray. Beef mince is hidden under layers of ham then cheese then carrot strips and finally spring onion.

  1. Using the foil, carefully roll it up into a log-shape then put it in the oven.
    a) Cooking time will vary according to oven power and temperature but occurs in two stages, one with foil (25 mins at 180 °C) then without (25 mins at 250-260 °C). Times are according to the online recipe and I seem to recall mine took longer because my oven is dodgy.
  2. While it’s cooking steam some extra veggies if you desire.
  3. Eat! I had enough for leftovers.

 

Recipe Time Again: Steak

I fell out of the habit of posting recipes for meals, which is a shame because I’ve only got pictures of some interesting creations now. Photos aren’t always enough to describe something new or experimental.

I’m going through the photos – I labelled a bunch the other night with their “meal” names in the “Food” folder of my Photos section. Time for more sharing… I am actually going to try to catch up a bit now and then stay caught up.

I’ve learnt how to do a nice steak, especially when marinated with garlic and mixed herbs in a couple of ways.

An uncooked piece of steak sits on a red chopping board with garlic and mixed herbs smeared liberally over it.

The first way is the pic above – grab your steak and put it on a flat surface then smear each side liberally with garlic and mixed herbs. It’s easiest to do one side on the flat surface before cooking, then heat up your oil/ etc. and put that side down to cook first. You’re left with one un-prepared side facing up at you which you then prep in the pan. This minimises wastage.

 

Two pieces of delicious steak frying in garlic butter in a small black non-stick frypan.

Next we have this pic above. I’m not sure if it’s got mixed herbs on it because as you can see the prepared side would be face-down. I do know that there’s garlic there because I’ve chosen here to put the garlic in first before the meat, while the margarine I used was melting. I know it’s margarine, not oil because of the colour.

Cooked steak with fried potato wedges and steamed cut veggies (orange carrot, purple cabbage, white cauliflower, green silverbeet) sits on a round white plate with green edging

Finally the finished meal. Steamed veggies (fifteen minutes in a steamer pot), fried potato wedges (also with mixed herbs on them by the looks) and a nicely-cooked steak.

I read of a method a while ago that you can also find online. Basically: for a 2-cm-thick steak, cook each side 2-3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium and 5-6 minutes for well done. Turn it only once. I favour cooking it for between 4-5 minutes. Very yummy.

It has made me think about cooking times and turning when cooking other meats. I usually only do one turn now, unless I’ve misjudged how long the meat needs which happens. I’m also trying to remember that when steaming veggies I need to look at my watch and take them off after fifteen minutes or else they become a bit overcooked.

 

 

What now for Manus?

Urrrrgh.

I bloody hate this situation.

I’ve made phone-calls, including to Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection). I’ve also sent an email to my local member, Bill Shorten MP (Opposition Leader) and Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Immigration).

See that below. This sickens me…. and I feel so hopeless and helpless about it.

Check out the statement from Shadow Minister for Immigration here:  http://shayneneumann.com.au/news/immigration-and-border-protection/former-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ A lot more mealy-mouthed than I’d hoped for. Luckily I saw it when looking up his contact details and could address the icky bits in my email (they’re the bits in red). In the email, when I speak of the “current situation” I’m referring to the situation today. The angle I took was influenced by a phone-chat I had with a staffer from Shayne Neumann’s office.

 

Dear Mr David Feeney MP, Mr Shayne Neumann MP and Mr Bill Shorten MP,

My name is Clare Keogh and I am a young university student living in [suburb], Victoria. I am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island that has been unfolding for several weeks and escalated today. I am also keeping the people detained on Nauru in my thoughts, as they should not be forgotten either.
I know that the current situation is not Labor’s doing and that the centres, when Labor restarted them, was intended to be used for regional processing rather than indefinite detention. 
 
However, the fact remains that the current situation is not the responsibility of PNG but of Australia. There have been reports of AFP involvement in today’s crisis on Nauru, after all. 
 
By what right are the men’s phones being seized? By what right are their few belongings being taken and destroyed? By what right have their only means of getting water and shelter been destroyed? By what right has their access to even the most basic medical aid and food been removed? Why has Behrouz Boochani been arrested?
 
I understand that, as you are in Opposition, it makes it harder to make concrete change. But you and your colleagues should speak up about the situation still. Perhaps you are advocating for them behind closed doors. Can you explain, concretely, how? 
 
I am particularly concerned by some of the information that has been presented in the statement produced by Mr Neumann an hour ago: 
 

The situation at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if Malcolm Turnbull was clear from the start about refugees’ access to essential services at the alternative accommodation in PNG.

Turnbull has a moral obligation to work with PNG to deescalate tensions and guarantee the ongoing safety and security of these people.

Labor accepts that the former Manus Island RPC has closed as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court of PNG.

The men at the closed centre need to relocate to alternative accommodation – such as East Lorengau – to access security, health and welfare services.

Footage and reports from advocates who have visited the East Lorengau site make clear that the “alternative accommodation” at East Lorengau is not ready. No water, toilets, or showers. No power. Inadequate shelter for the tropical conditions. No security and no safety. The locals do not want them there. After all, Manus Island is a tiny part of PNG, with scarce resources for the local population.
 
Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why is the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices? 
 
 
Nauru is also a small place that is struggling to care for all of its people. Yet today I heard news of a new contract being given to Canstruct to build more facilities (described as “garrison-type”) for those held there. There are children and vulnerable women on Nauru. Can nothing be done for them? 
I thought Australia was better than this. It makes me sick at heart to think of this going on, when it would be so much cheaper and more humane to fulfil our international and moral obligations and either bring them here or resettle them in another country who are willing and able to take them – like New Zealand – while working with other countries in the region to create a viable long-term solution. 
 
The idea that these measures are in place to “save lives at sea” or “protecting Australian borders” is rubbish. There are far cheaper and better ways of preventing people risking lives on boats to Australia, like investing in real regional dialogue and processing, providing support and resources to countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the boats set out from. 
 
The current situation is a punitive measure created to encourage asylum seekers to think that going to Australia is worse than staying where they are. Now that has led to desperate people being treated like animals, denied even the most basic human rights. 
 
Please do something. This is a major sticking point for myself and many others in terms of voting. More than that, making a stand is the right thing to do. Have some political courage, listen to those who are experiencing the crisis, and act, please. The situation has gone on for far too long! 
 
If you reply, please don’t use an automated response but something real. 

Central Australia trip report #7 & 8

Wow. I didn’t realise I’d forgotten to upload the last two days of these.

 

Day 7

The next morning we were up and going early. We soon arrived in Alice Springs.

View out the front of a car windscreen from the passenger side, showing two red stones with "Welcome to ALICE SPRINGS" written on them. Sky is blue and everything else outside is red.

We saw the sights and had a drive around. Including Charles Darwin University:

Foreground has red dirt and yellowing grass. Then the black sign with white words stands in front of some buildings with blue sky behind.

And a place called “Anzac Hill”, a memorial to those who’d died and served in war.

At the top, I realised that I’d been up Anzac Hill before – when I went to Central Australia with school, some seven (!) years ago now.

Then:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. It's a close-up photo and I'm wearing a black t-shirt with "Hong Kong" and a gold dragon on it, with tan/grey shorts. My hair is out and long and I'm wearing my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat.

…and now:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence - two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. I'm wearing a blue collared t-shirt and jeans with my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat. I'm standing next to a green shrub and the sky is clear blue behind me.

We drove on through and around the town and found other things to see. Like the monument to four people who died during the “Inaugural Cannonball Run” in 1994. You can find out more information about the race and monument here. (It’s located to the south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.)

Red rock and mortar creating a fence with a raised corner which has a dark stone triangle on it. On the stone triangle is a plaque dedicated to those who lost their lives during the "Inaugural Cannonball Run"

We also took a squiz at the Cultural Centre and town square. We’d had the luck to visit during NAIDOC week, so there were events going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of those.

Eventually, we had to travel on, aiming for Uluru.

Sunset over scrubland, creating a layered effect of blue, pink and orange-yellow stripes on the sky's horizon. The half-moon is bright and small high in the darkening sky above.

Day 8

The next morning, we awoke early. We’d spent another night “free-camping” just outside the national park (Uluru campsite itself – Yulara – was full), to take the total to three. We had set our alarms to wake us before dawn. I remembered seeing the sunset at Uluru last time and wanted to experience a sunrise with family.

So off we went.

We found a good spot in the designated viewing area (they have different ones for sunrise and sunset), then set up to take photos.

Hello, Uluru.

Photo of me in puffy black coat (with fake-fur-rimmed hood), standing in the foreground with Uluru, a bit of grasslands and trees/ shrubs behind me. The sky is blue.

I’m so glad the climbing ban’s been placed… There are plenty of different ways to experience the place with respect.

We took photos of the distant Olgas too.

It would’ve been nice to do a ranger-guided walk around all of Uluru, as I’d done with school, but time was against us. The tour started too late and went too “long” for our purposes, due to a scheduled flight. Before I left on that plane though we went close to the Rock at Mutitjulu waterhole and did a little walk, exploring the story told there.

We visited the Uluru cultural centre and saw the displays. Including hearing a talk by a ranger and Indigenous people about various tools the Indigenous people of the area use/d. Hint: boomerang is not universal. The Pitjantjatjara people call it a kali. (For more words, see this link: Pitjantjatjara words – Tools.)

A sign at the entrance to the cultural centre, first in Anangu then English: Yunkumytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara Traditional owners say, 'Welcome to our place'. Listen to the insects and birds, look at and feel the land as you walk down the paths to the Cultural Centre. Enter through the display. Exit near the cafe."

And then we were off on the road again, for the last time on the trip together…. (For context, I had made the decision to fly back to Melbourne while others continued back down the highway, because it got me back in time for placement with a couple of days to regroup.)

Before long, we arrived at the airport…and it was soon time for boarding.

Red runway from the plane's window, also showing the wing and red dirt.

Then lift-off.

As we were told at the start of the flight by the pilot, the flight took us south of Coober Pedy, near Leigh Creek (? At least, I think that was the name of it), over Lake Eyre North, south of the Flinders Ranges, above Mildura to Bendigo then over the outer suburbs to land in Melbourne. In other words, I reflected, it used a similar route to our trip. I liked the symmetry of that.

Here’s Lake Eyre North:

The flight was pretty good. Before long though – quicker than I’d expected – we were flying over the outskirts of Melbourne…

Ready for landing.

But my journey back wasn’t yet complete. I went out and had to choose between the SkyBus then train, or a PTV bus and ended up choosing the latter (cheaper and not much longer). After another hour and a half, I was back home.

 

A black, grey & orange Smartbus is driving on a road. Its destination is Melbourne Airport 901

An image sourced from Google as illustration – obviously going the opposite direction than me!

 

Book Review: Letters of Love

My weekend was busy in some aspects – travel here, do this, travel there (with an early start), do that. But it meant I got to see family (yay!) and then, at the end of it all, I spent a lazy late Sunday afternoon reading and chatting with housemates.

The book I read was a non-fiction one. It was a series of letters written by Prominent Australians, to people and things they love. Including their older and younger selves, their children (currently born or yet-to-be), football (Aussie Rules), childhood, love, parents, partner, friends, grandparents, Australia, and more.

This book is a beautiful treasure, a tribute to life in many forms and often thought-provoking. It left me feeling calm and reinvigorated, as well as making me reflect on what things I would say to different people in my life if given the chance. It makes me want to create that chance and write letters to them.

I highly recommend the book.

Front cover of book. Red, with shadow imprint of a heart behind white words, "letters of love". At the top of the cover is written, "Alannah and Madeline Foundation presents". Below the title are the words "words from the heart penned by prominent Australians".

Life Update

Today is a day of sunshowers, of the sky going from “partly cloudy” to “overcast and drizzly” and back multiple times. Glad I didn’t end up doing any washing today!

This week has been a case of doing “a little of this, and a little of that”.

I’m really enjoying just doing stuff with earphones in, listening to playlists. It’ll be even better in a couple of weeks when I don’t have to have earphones in in order to listen.

One of those little things this week was the re-opening of documents relating to Lily’s story. I’ve re-familiarised myself with the characters and their timelines. Next step is to look at the Plot Synopsis and then open the actual story document. Slowly, slowly…

I need to type up some more recipes.

I’m still making my way through the Captain Awkward blog archives. I’ve come across a few old threads which have been good to read and reflect on. Like the one about a person’s clumsiness and seeming disorganisation leading to a discussion about the labels we give ourselves and the way we believe them (i.e. harmful or helpful?). It also mentioned owning our mistakes. Then there was the one I read this morning about anxiety and coping. Lots of interesting things to think about for me in them.

In that light, it’s worth noting that I’m getting better at making phone calls to Important People or for Important Reasons because extracurricular activities like being LaTUCS President have forced me to become better. It’s alllll about the scripting and note-taking, for me at least. When it’s got to be done, it will get done and each time feels a bit better.

Watch this space, too, because LaTUCS and other choirs I know are preparing our Christmas offerings. Too early in the year for you? Not for me! 😛 At least, in this sense.

Ooh, and while we’re on the subject of choirs – you have EIGHT days to go before Early Rego closes for MIV2018. Better get to it, if you want to join us….

Oh yeah….and I was reminded this week (for the first time in a while) – just because it feels minor, doesn’t mean it always is. A cough is sometimes just a cough and sometimes it’s bacterial pharyngitis (inflamed throat caused bacteria). Don’t be me and just “put up with it” for weeks until you realise it has been weeks. (Though, yay for good immune system to keep it feeling minor all that time – and thanks, health system for good GPs and costs.)

Of course, the issue I blogged about on Tuesday, the situation of the men on Manus, is still very much at the forefront of my mind. I hate, hate, hate the fact that politics is so hamstrung about it. It’s maddening. 😡

So that’s me. How about you?

Book review: Beautiful Messy Love by Tess Woods

Hi everyone!

About a month ago, I heard about an interesting-sounding book from a friend of mine. I decided to read and review it. The book is a new release by author Tess Woods, called “Beautiful Messy Love”.

Front cover of the book, "Beautiful Messy Love". We see a white woman's legs in high-heeled sandals and pink-and-white checked dress. Woman is walking, holding a bunch of red roses, with some rose petals falling. Title of book is in pinkish red, with subtitle in black: "what happens when love and loyalty collide?" Author's name, "Tess Woods" is at the bottom in capitals.

Front cover – I like it. I had to edit the photo so you can see all of Tess Woods’ last name over the library barcode!

It’s a romance story – but more than that. It’s about identities and relationships, traditions and cultures (of family, sport, religion) and how they influence our connections with each other. It tackles footy culture, family cultures and expectations, the all-invasive presence and power of the media (including social) and more. How do we find ourselves, our place in the world, amidst the competing woulds, shoulds and coulds from well-meaning family and friends as well as broader societal/ cultural expectations? How do we find love, negotiating those expectations?

The novel is set in Perth, Australia and centres on four characters – brother and sister Nick and Lily Harding, with Anwar (Anna) Hayati and Toby Watts – and their families and connections.

  • Nick is an AFL footballer for the “Western Rangers” (team colours: red, white and green 😉 ) and he’s a bit of a “bad boy” turning, or turned, good, trying to find a place for himself between footy and the real world.
  • Lily is “Yes Lily”, a medical student who’s two years from finishing her six-year degree but struggling with whether it’s really what she wants to do, or whether she said yes to others’ desires without standing up for herself again.
  • Anna/Anwar is a young Muslim refugee, who has had to grow up too quickly after the tragedies that led to her residency in Australia – as a consequence, she’s very wise and adult in some ways but shy and curious about others.
  • Toby is a man who’s experiencing personal tragedy and has big dreams held down by a sense of duty to others’ dreams.

Huh. Writing that, I can see why Toby and Lily are drawn to each other – they’re both “yes” people. Anwar/Anna and Nick are drawn to each other because they each see and honour each other’s pain and the different worlds they’ve experienced.

I knew I was going to enjoy this book from very early on. I remember sitting on the train, beginning to devour it and probably making other travellers very curious or exasperated as I giggled at a funny moment, then awwed in sympathy the next. I think the thing that sold me on Anna/Anwar and Nick was when Nick asked (at their first meeting) what “leviosa” meant after reading Anna’s t-shirt (“It’s LeviOsa, not LeviosAR” 😀 – I want it!). Anna/Anwar is so surprised he’s never read the series or watched the movies that she gives him her copy of Philosopher’s Stone. Then the way they arranged their first date…

I think it wasn’t long after that point that my brain said, “okay, they better have sorted their inevitable culture clashes et cetera out by the end of the book and still be together”. Or something. They’re so cute! I’m a sucker for romance the way Nick and Anna/Anwar do it. Of course, there are annoying parts too, bits when I wanted to grab one and say, “ugh, do that thing already!” But overall…. *dreamy sigh*. Anna/Anwar is someone I relate to with her feelings about Nick and compassion for others, and I’m sympathetic to her trauma-related struggles. Nick is sweet and footy-mad and dedicated and down-to-earth.

Lily and Toby’s relationship is more “eh” for me, because I think I relate to them less – and I don’t like rebounds much tbh. Apart from the pie-baking scene and other small moments, I found Toby a little annoying at first. Idk if he’s really my type. Therefore his story arc didn’t matter as much to me. Lily is relatable enough: the “Yes Lily” nickname resonates, as assertiveness is something I’m thinking about these days. Also the “crying at the drop of a hat” feeling. I hear you, Lily! She’s also very much the caring sister – as an older sister myself, that made me connect with her. But her personality comes off as a bit flaky to me at first so I only warmed up to her properly as the story went on.

The fact it was a “footy story” allowed for a really good exploration of fame and media and cultures clashing. As established on this blog, I’m a bit of a “floating” footy supporter, largely tied to my family team. I live it vicariously. But I’m also a consumer of media so I’m aware of the downright stupid stuff that footballers can get caught up in. So my lens was coloured by that when reading. Though I should note that Tess Woods wasn’t intending it to be a footy exposé. Just an interesting setting.

Another thing I loved was the way familial and platonic relationships of the four main characters with their family and friends worked. There were plenty of different personalities who all felt real. This was apparent when we saw the same character viewed through the eyes of more than one main character. That’s possible because each chapter is narrated in first person by one of the four characters. This story device can be hit-and-miss, but it works well in this novel. Each character has a distinctive voice and so the alternating insights are welcome. I loved the different perspectives – of the main characters and the supporting voices, especially when advice was given.

The book is divided into three sections plus epilogue, involving time-jumps. I kinda wish there’d been a fourth one, in-between the second and third, because that jump felt a little too big, especially given what was going on at the end of the “second act”. The intervening time was summed up by the characters but it still felt a little off – I’d have preferred to see a bit more of it happening rather than just hear perspectives about it.  For me, it meant the transition to the climax was a little out-of-left-field (sports reference!) and the emotional-arc resolution for Nick and Anna/Anwar felt a little inevitable and flat, though still sweet.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I recommend it to people who like romance, stories about family and identity and finding your own place, and those looking for a light read that’s more than just fluff. Go and get your hands on it now. 🙂