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Any Ordinary Day (Leigh Sales, Hamish Hamilton)

In her third book, Leigh Sales explores—with great clarity and intelligence—how tragedy and loss can affect people. In doing so, she confronts some of the most profound questions about being human. Why do bad things happen? Is God, fate or chance at work? How much control do we have over our lives? How can we get through grief? Where does resilience come from? Using her incisive journalistic skills, Sales presents the reader with both scientific research and vivid descriptions of her own and others’ encounters with tragedy. She presents the research with a light touch, and interviews not just those who became Australian icons of survival (Walter Mikac who survived the Port Arthur massacre, for example, or Stuart Diver who survived the Thredbo landslide) but also those who help others cope in the aftermath—a priest, a detective, a social worker. Clear themes emerge: the absolute randomness of life, the human brains need to find order and explanation, the solace that some people find in religion, and disdain for the hackneyed concept of ‘closure’. Sales’ prominence as a journalist combined with the intrinsic fascination people have for news stories about terrible events should guarantee a readership for this excellent and accessible book.

Lorien Kaye is a freelance writer and editor, who has been writing about books and the book industry for over 20 years

 

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