The becoming an adult stage was traumatic enough to live through first time around; I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to relive it all over again via Tegan Bennett Daylight’s stories.
But now, Six Bedrooms has been shortlisted for this year’s Stella Prize as well as the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and lots of interesting, intriguing reviews are appearing. Enough to make me ignore the ghastly front cover design and finally dive into the short stories inside.
Daylight starts with a quote from Tim Winton’s Aquifer, which sets up her stories perfectly,
…the past is in us, and not behind us. Things are never over.
A handful of the stories present Tasha at various stages of her coming of age – awkward, destructive and defiant – while the rest explore relationships exposed to loss, pain and sexual longing and confusion.
Daylight’s writing is evocative and painfully honest.
Her story about a teen party full of wanna-be Madonna’s doing ‘Like a Virgin’ moves across the sunken lounge room could have come straight from my own history! Daylight recreates that scary, exciting sense of being hopelessly adrift in the big wide world for the first time. All that rebellion and determination to do better, be better than your own parents making you brash and abrasive and oh so vulnerable. Trying desperately to find a place to fit in but still feeling out of place everywhere.
The sign of a good book, dare I say, a profound book, is one that instils in you a desire to be a better person.
Reading Six Bedrooms has been a timely prompt for me to remember just how full of angst this phase was as my stepsons now enter this unknown terrain themselves. A reminder of how important it is to always have a safe harbour to sail into when it all gets too much.