Books & Literature

Book Review: The Space Between the Stars, by Indira Naidoo

NON-FICTION: A deeply moving and uplifting exploration of the power of nature – even urban nature – to heal the deepest hurts.

A beautifully written memoir dealing with the darkest of days following the suicide of a beloved sister.

Most people in Australia will have heard the name Indira Naidoo. Throughout her 30-year career in journalism, she has won many awards working for the ABC and SBS. As well as being a consumer advocate and environmental activist, she is an ambassador to the Wayside Chapel homeless crisis centre where she conducts weekly gardening classes for homeless visitors on their rooftop. What some may not know is that during Melbourne’s first lockdown in 2020, Naidoo lost her precious youngest sister to suicide. Needless to say, it rocked her world and The Space Between the Stars chronicles her journey of how she dealt with the overwhelming grief.

While extremely sad, this book gives hope to all who are suffering from great loss. Naidoo goes through the processes she went through to become sane again in a world that had completely fallen apart. She needed to make some sense of this indescribable tragedy, all while living through a worldwide pandemic.

Naidoo was born in South Africa, but moved many times in her young life. Educated in England, Zimbabwe and Australia (Tasmania and South Australia), she became used to moving every few years. But she was always with her beloved sisters.

In The Space Between the Stars Naidoo speaks about her relationships with her sisters, Dreamcatcher and Stargirl, each only a year apart in age. They grew up as close as any sisters could be. This account is a mixture of memories and healing. The memories paint a picture of fun, laugher and hijinks that only siblings or those very close to someone will understand. Cricket, swimming, highland dancing, learning to drive and moving to another new country are all described with love.

Now living in Sydney, she gets up each morning wondering how things will ever get better. But one morning a chance encounter with a huge Moreton Bay fig tree in the Royal Botanic garden begins a journey of healing and new relationships. The tree offers Naidoo companionship as she is helped by experts in ants, edible weeds, feathers, horticulture, puddles, space and shape perception. All these people help her to slow down and really look at her surroundings.

The Space Between the Stars is a beautifully written, gentle story about grief and healing. It is a story of love for family, of hope and the healing power of nature.

Naidoo brings grief from behind closed doors and allows us to heal along with her. We may all handle profound grief in a different way, but this book may be helpful for many, giving us permission to just stop and rest in nature as we learn to become whole again.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: March 2022
RRP: $32.99

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