The past is always close behind.
On 11 November 1982, police were called to a housing estate an hour west of Melbourne. In the lounge room of an otherwise ordinary brick veneer home, they found a five-year-old boy lying on the carpet. His arms were by his sides, his palms flat. The paramedics could see no obvious signs of trauma other than an almost imperceptible indentation to the boy's skull, but he died the next day.
The boy's mother said a man had attacked her son on the way back from the shops but few people were surprised when she and her boyfriend went to prison for the crime. Police declared themselves satisfied that justice had been done. And yet, for years, rumours swept the estate and clung like cobwebs to the long-vacant house: there had been a cover-up. The real perpetrator, at least according to local gossip, was the boy's six-year-old sister, Lauren…
Reading Group Book Questions
About The Author
- Who do you think bears responsibility for the death of Jacob Cashman? Why?
- Did the Department and its and social workers fail the Cashman children? Did they do enough to encourage a relationship between the surviving children? Was it important to keep the children in touch with their mother?
- What is Lauren seeking, in her series of sexual encounters before she leaves foster care? Why do you think she became celibate, after foster care? What do you make of the young men who have sex with Lauren?
- Why do you think Lauren chose to move interstate, and to live alone, after she left foster care? Do you believe that she was happy alone, or was she in hiding? Does she give any clues about her need to be with others, or her fear of the way others will greet her, in the wider world?
- What explains Harley’s reaction to the loss of his arm? Do you believe that it changed the way he saw himself, or the way that others saw him? What does he mean when he says he’s pleased to be the ``guy with one arm’’?
Caroline Overington is the author of two non-fiction books, ONLY IN NEW YORK and KICKBACK, which won the Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature. She has twice won a Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism, and has also won the Sir Keith Murdoch Award for Journalistic Excellence. She has written three novels: GHOST CHILD, I CAME TO SAY GOODBYE and MATILDA IS MISSING. She lives in Bondi with her husband and their young twins.