It's 2.23am. I have just finished reading All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton and my first thoughts are, 'What. Just. Happened?'
After not responding to knocks at doors, scrapes on knees and fire alarms at dinner time, I thought it was safer to finish reading it after the boys had gone to bed. My head was filled with white butterflies, white bones, hope, hate, love, life and death. Just as I became Eli Bell in Boy Swallows Universe, growing up as a too smart kid in a shut your mouth Brisbane suburb, so was I Molly Hook, head full of words and infallibly optimistic, no matter what life threw at me. Only Trent Dalton can make you loose yourself in a book like that.
I hate snot. The hardest page of the book for me to read wasn't when the gravedigger's daughter hid with her mother's bones in an open grave, got the beating or saw the rape, it was page 173. It was also the most incredibly moving and mind blowing piece of descriptive writing that I have ever read in my life. In that moment, snot was poetic and graceful. Only Trent Dalton can create characters like that.
The same suffocating pang that squeezed the tears from my eyes when I relived my childhood in Boy Swallows Universe were shed for Molly and Violet Hook. I talked to oceans instead of skies. I spat out pills instead of seeds. I had the monsters in my bed, after I had fed and cared for them all day until they became twisted by drink and darkness. I have carried all I owned and owned all I carried. Only Trent Dalton can see inside my soul like that.
Now, as I check on my sleeping children under the dark sky, I speak softly to it. 'Please don't let anything happen to me so my kids don't end up like a character in a Trent Dalton novel.'
When the blue sky returns, I will ask politely if one day I could write a book as honest and beautiful as a Trent Dalton novel, and I wouldn't even care if it lied.