Happily coinciding, as host Genevieve Jacobs noted, with the announcement that the ACT would participate in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the launch drew a large crowd of well-wishers as author and former Canberra Girls’ Grammar student, Lisa Nops, read from her first book, “My Life in a Pea Soup”, published after she won the 2012 Finch Memoir prize at the Sydney Writers Festival in May – the prize was worth $10,000 and included publication.
Jacobs praised the book as “intelligent and considered,” commenting that Knox had avoided the temptation of erring on the side of preaching and had, with her husband Michael, somehow “found a way through” her daughter’s disability.
Nops, a former school pupil of novelist Marian Halligan, read passages from her book covering her gradual realisation that her daughter Sally was severely autistic, a hilarious episode involving Sally’s encounter with a chocolate fountain and a more sobering account of theCanberrabushfires.The book is divided into three sections – Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Australia – encompassing the varying responses to her disability during periods when the family lived overseas and their discovery of the SON-Rise program, a home-based, child-centred approach to developmental disorders such as autism.
A substantial portion of the action is set in Canberra, where Nops was able access such programs with greater ease, so she is hoping a large proportion of her readership will be found here.
While, in some ways, the book presents a story of heartbreak as the parents try to get through to their daughter, it is also a story with a profound conclusion. “In the end,” Nops told us, “Sally is a beautiful person.”
As for the title, anybody who’s been toEngland knows what it’s like to be in a pea-soup fog, and as she told us: “I’m not eating pea soup, I’m living in it”.
“My Life in a Pea Soup,” published by Finch Publishing, 224 pages, paperback, rrp $29.99, available at www.finch.com.au and all good bookstores.