Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Books I've Loved: We Can Make A Life

I went to a book event at my favourite downtown bookstore last week to get a copy of this book and to get it signed by the author.  Chessie worked with me at one of my cinemas for several years, and it was a special experience to see her up there at the front of the store, reading from her first book and answering questions from another local writer.

I snatched up my copy, eager to read it.  So when Sunday came, I sat down and read it in a single sitting.

What a gorgeous, personal book this is. Chessie delves deeply into her own family mythology to try and find meaning in the events that shaped the family. Ostensibly about her father and his role as a rural doctor and in helping during the Christchurch earthqukes, We Can Make A Life is so much bigger than this. It is about the bonds of family and how they can fracture and break, yet heal to create something stronger than before. It is about the work it takes to make a life together. It is about sacrifice and the small things that are so, so important.

Beautifully written, and heartbreakingly honest, this has quickly become one of this years' best reads for me. I read the whole thing in a day, but am sure I will go back again to dip into single chapters just to re-savour the words.  Definitely recommended.

But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:
Hours after the 2011 Christchuch Earthquake, Kaikōura-based doctor Chris Henry crawled through the burning CTV building to rescue those who were trapped. Six years later, his daughter Chessie interviews him in an attempt to understand the trauma that led her father to burnout, in the process unravelling stories and memories from her own remarkable family history.

Chessie rebuilds her family’s lives on the page, from her parents’ honeymoon across Africa, to living in Tokelau as one of five children under ten before returning to New Zealand, where her mother would set her heart and home in the Clarence Valley only to see it devastated in the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake, and the family displaced.

Written with the same love and compassion that defines her family’s courage and strength, We Can Make a Life is an extraordinary memoir about the psychological cost of heroism, home and belonging, and how a family made a life together.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds both sad and inspiring. I remember reading about Christchurch earthquake.So devastating.