Careless by Deborah Robertson was my third book for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge and (I think) the first book to come from an Australian author and geographic location.
I have had this book in my "to read" pile for quite some time now - I have been holding off starting it mainly because of the topic area - I knew it was a book that dealt with death and some intense grief and loss issues in many forms. As a previous Bereavement Counsellor I sometimes feel my personal reading needs to steer away from this area to give myself a bit of a break from the loss but I have to say, after having finished Careless I am sorry I kept away from it for so long.
Careless tells the story of a number of characters - all brought together and linked by a tragic event involving the sudden death of a number of children in a local park.
The deaths impact on each character in a different way and to a different degree. There is 8 year old Pearl who has lost her younger brother (and crux of her world), Riley. Adam, a selfish, egotistical artist attempting to create the design for a lasting piece of art that will stand as a memorial to the dead children. Sonia, the widow of a famous Australian furniture designer, grieving for the loss of her husband and the removal of her sons to countries far away from her and Anna, a mother whose adult daughter was murdered by her partner a number of years ago.
Each of these characters have a distinct and individual voice - I enjoyed hearing each of their stories and seeing how they overlapped and impacted on the other characters.
The book is heartbreaking in many ways, there is intense pain being experienced and narrated, but I never felt depressed or overwhelmed by the story or the emotions it provoked. In fact, I couldn't get enough of the story. I read the book quickly and was left wanting more of the story at the end of the novel. That is not to say that I don't think the story was wrapped up well at the end, it was. I just wanted to stay in the world with these characters and find out where they went next.
The book contains many metaphors linking the artistic world and material objects to feelings of connections and links with people - particularly following death or loss. I enjoyed this symbolism and feel I would need to work through the book again to really take these on board and truly appreciate them.
Careless was shortlisted for the 2007 Miles Franklin Award in Australia and I am eagerly awaiting the author's next novel!