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The trauma cleaner

Krasnostein, Sarah.
A friend who had just finished reading this biography was raving about how good it was, so I decided to read it too. I was originally interested in it because of the trauma cleaner aspect of it, and the fact that I love biographies. However, as I read through the first chapter I realized that this book offered a much bigger and more engaging story than I was prepared for. The book is carefully and beautifully structured by the author to tell the life story of Sandra Pankhurst, framed through her work as a trauma cleaner. Sandra is a heroine in every sense of the word. She is a survivor of so much trauma that many of her memories are faded or completely gone. The author gently helps her to remember what she can, and when needed supplements the history with interviews and outside research. Sandra started life as a gentle little boy living with gender confusion. She was adopted into a profoundly abusive family, and is on her own by the age of 17. She survives and thrives as a sex worker, and becomes one of the first women in Australia to have gender confirmation surgery. A woman in her sixties now, Sandra has been married and divorced, owned several businesses, and is now helping people who are dealing with the consequences of trauma in their own homes, either through death or hoarding. The author becomes a true friend to her, and it is apparent that telling her life story is a form of healing for Sandra.
Sarah Pump (Staff) (Queen's Square Library)