Roseghetto is a confrontational, heartbreaking debut novel from journalist Kirsty Jagger which paints in vivid colours the other side of life which is hidden in plain sight in the suburbs of the world, regardless of country, culture or religion.
Set in the suburb of Rosemeadow in the 1970’s and ‘80’s Sydney, Roseghetto is written in simple words, stark in their simplicity, leaving little to the imagination other than what is delivered by the words, but is full of hope, determination and love.
Shayla is the main protagonist and this is her story, as it is the story of so many now and in times past who have grown up in poverty, not just financial hardship but the poverty of the grinding, relentless lack of so many of the social and economic elements that make life tenable.
Commencing work as a Cadet Journalist Shayla is writing an article on Urban planning. The time is 2009 and the Rosemeadow Riot has been headline news, bringing the confrontational reality of poverty, hardship and violence into the homes of every Australian.
Returning to the suburb of her youth to research the current changes, she passes through the familiar territory of dead lawns, broken furniture tumbled in careless confusion, car bodies no longer of use, black bags of rubbished dumped in the street; the detritus of human hopelessness. Nothing has changed.
Arriving at Rosemeadow she is stunned at the massive emptiness of what was once the Housing Commission suburb where she lived. She had no idea, when the New South Wales Minister for Housing said he would not tolerate neighbourhood terrorism, the community needed rebuilding, he meant bulldoze it and start from scratch.
Standing there in the empty spaces of what once was, she is taken back to her childhood as a terrified three-year-old, wetting the bed, to a young girl growing up in a family fuelled with domestic violence, trauma and substance abuse, but amongst it all an intense love for her mother and younger brothers, that never weakened.
Her Grandparents where a lifeline, her love of books her security which fuelled a great desire to one-day move forward with her life; to move away from the violence, brutality and hopelessness that was her life. To be able to try and make a difference no matter how small. To never, ever go back.
Roseghetto tells it like it is; real, painful, tragic and emotionally numbing, as Shayla recounts a life with lessons never forgotten, that leave scars equal to those of War Veterans, but to which society in general chooses to turn a blind eye.
Kirsty Jagger has used a very light and gentle touch to bring this story into the light. Roseghetto is a beautifully written but also an extremely heartbreaking and challenging story. It is well known or said, that some stories need to be told; this one certainly does!
|Publisher||University of Queensland Press|