Set in the town of Kalgoorlie, this is a story about boundaries, those we can see on a map, and those that live in our hearts. As a Social Worker, Aimee begins to learn that her new job in this Western Australian mining town will be a challenge. The community is small, and she is living and socialising with the very people she is helping. The new recruit, has her own secrets, which lay buried in her past, and are hinted at, but only slowly revealed.
Many characters, both fascinating and friendly, are introduced to Aimee, as she begins her job. Lori, is the daughter of an Italian migrant, who came to Kalgoorlie, and made a life for himself and his family. She is bubbly, energetic, and caring. She also has befriended one of the old women of the town, Aggie. Aggie can read tea leaves, but more than that, she can see the future, and can communicate and foretell many things that will happen. Lori also has a gift, and chooses to learn how to use it for the good.
Kerry is another character we meet. Her much adored husband is terminally ill with lung cancer. He is dying at a very young age, and as most people believe, the underground mining is often seen as a contributing factor. It is Kerry, who in her distress, begins to make a fuss about the apalling smell from the smoke stacks, smells that leave the school children coughing, with irritated eyes, when on the school oval. Her fuss gets picked up, and due to lack of interest by the Mayor, a protest rally is held. She is invited to apply for a job on the council, and hopes to make a difference.
There is a dedication of the Social Workers, and the team who care for the venerable people in the community, that is warming. In the mix of unemployment, high rentals, and isolation, there are many people who have lost out. Those who have lost their land, their families, and any customs and laws they may have lived by in the past, are the greatest sufferers. When they are told to move to another settlement, Aimee is suspicious, and contacts her father, a politician. Sure enough, a Japanese mining magnate wants to look at the uranium deposits on their land.
This is a really well researched and well rounded story. It covers aspects of personal lives and struggles, as well as looking at the bigger picture. We come to smile at Lori, with her exuberance and loving Italian family, and Aggie, who has taken care of her neighbour for many years, as he pops in each day for a cuppa, and to read the paper. Kerry has an enormous struggle ahead of her when her husband dies, but her little girl Amber will be her strength.
The characters are wonderfully rounded, and real. The added beauty of this story is the descriptions of Kalgoorlie. Lori likes to go to the little hill out of town to watch the sun rise, and the sense of the surrounding landscapes is quite magical. The theme that “Good must come from bad,” is followed throughout the story, and gives it a heart.