Published: Harlequin – Australia
Date: March 3rd 2021.
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
A Home Like Ours is set in a small fictional town in Victoria, Australia. It’s what I’d call an issues driven book. It’s full of them! It is also filled with a wonderfully eclectic range of characters. Many of them I fell for, and of course some of them are just not ready for redemption yet. We can always hope change one day might be possible! I mention a few of the central characters below who experience displacement of one kind or another and do grow through it, largely because of the support of others in the town and their own resilience.
The plot centres around a community garden, a group of women who want to keep it going and to admit those who others don’t “approve”. And there are some dastardly councillors who want to sell a plot of land adjacent to the garden to big developers. Of course lining their own pockets in doing so.
Helen is the caretaker of the garden – she has had a tough life, she is in her mid-fifties and while educated has found it difficult to find a job in the past. She also knows first hand what homelessness is all about. I loved spiky, tough talking, take no nonsense Helen. And its a matter of can she have her heart opened again and embrace a second and better life.
Tara is a younger person with two children and a family owned business in town. She is about to find out what its like to deal with a big challenge and who her friends really are. I really felt for Tara and her husband Jon. I liked how their story develops.
Jade is a young single mother – to Milo. She lives on a benefit and if I thought Helen was spiky well Jade can give her a run for her money. Jade has had a tough life, however she is about to find out what trusting and opening up to new possibilities are all about.
Oh, I forgot to mention all of the above are white! Because in town there are also a number of refugees with pasts that none of us have ever had to live through and when they come to their new country everything is not as rosy as promised.
You can’t read this book and remain detached from all the issues presented. Mainly I think because they are so universal and we know them in our own towns. The book asks us to examine our own hearts. To name a few – homelessness, white privilege, prejudice towards those who are different, struggling single mothers, abusive partners, ageism, the sudden onset of a challenging disease.
Coupled with all that is true love and trust, hope, belief in what can be changed and how we can build a better place by being open to and learning about differences. And what true friendship looks like.
Fiona Lowe has written a rich, thought provoking book that will long remain with me.