Her Kind of Luck (Michelle Balogh, Brio)
When Michelle Balogh’s great-grandmother Shan-Yi dies, Balogh moves into her apartment temporarily. Struggling with depression, the opportunity to live in the luxurious Sydney home provides a welcome change, but it is through packing away Shan-Yi’s belongings that she gains a new sense of inspiration and purpose. A combination of memoir and biography, Her Kind of Luck parallels Balogh’s and Shan-Yi’s stories, flipping between their two worlds. Through paperwork, letters and diary entries, Balogh uncovers the extraordinary untold story of her great-grandmother’s life. Chinese-born Shan-Yi moved to America with her family at a young age and as an adolescent embarked on a journey across the globe before settling in Sydney as an adult. Her adventurous life is set against a backdrop of love, marriage, war and even suspected espionage. Balogh pieces together Shan-Yi’s story and translates it into a compelling narrative that reads like fiction, drawing the reader into her unique life. She also offers an account of her own mental health struggle as she explores career paths and navigates friendship and heartbreak. Balogh’s fresh voice and dedication to this personal project results in a touching tribute that explores the complexities of identity through the lens of two different times and cultures.
Maria H Alessandrino is a Perth-based writer and freelance reviewer