Book Review: Normal People.

A review of: Normal People – By Sally Rooney.

Source: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/normal-people

TITLE:

Normal People

AUTHOR:

Sally Rooney

GENRE:

Contemporary/ Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

269

GET IT HERE:

booktopia.com.au

Overview:

Normal People, by Sally Rooney, explores the dynamics between two socially opposite people (Connell and Marianne) – and how they clash and also how they come together.

Connell hails from a severely middle-class, single parent background, while Marianne was born into money. On the outside looking in, the two of them appear at odds with the other, yet their connection is somehow unavoidable and oddly romantic, in a very un-romantic kind of way.

My Thoughts:

Normal People had my attention very early on. On a personal level, differences in social class and status hit home for me, and so I was immediately intrigued. Love is often the only common ground between two people, and yet sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

But Rooney’s novel quickly became very repetitive and oftentimes, predictable. Whether this is simply to do with what the title suggests, I cannot say. But I can say I was severely disappointed. The fire I was hoping for was not there, and the ending was one that seemed almost at odds with what the story seemed to convey.

Although I can understand the idea of ‘Normal People’ having normal, uneventful, angst-y and uncomfortable lives, the notion made the novel seem un-novellish. Yes, I know that isn’t a real word. Hopefully you get what I mean without me spoiling too much of it.

Personally, I think some people will find this book better than others, depending on their personal experiences with social classes, status and love itself. For me, I could not seem to find any strong feeling of connection with the ending, although I connected on some level with both the characters.

My Rating: 2/5

Australian Bushfire Crisis & Emergency Information.

Information true at the time of writing (31/01/2019 – 13:00).
*Updated 05/01/2020

Source: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/12/photo-of-koala-and-firefighter-surrounded-by-flames-perfectly-captures-the-climate-emergency/

Now I know most people are usually working on New Year’s Resolutions in January – and I’m sure I will post something about this at a later date.

But right now, I want to take some time out to acknowledge the truly horrific bushfire season Australia is currently suffering from.

Fires of this intensity, size and duration are unprecedented, with Australia already seeing multiple fatalities and homes lost – and we’re only one month into summer.

Due to our record-low rainfall, soil moisture at all-time lows, and dry and windy conditions across the country, Australia is not set for relief any time soon.

At the time of writing (updated 05/01/2020), the losses are as follows:

Source: https://www.qbe.com/au/news/bushfire-danger-ratings-explained
STATEDEATHSMISSINGHOMES LOSTHECTARES (h) BURNED
NSW1701,365+ 3,600,000
ACT1000
QLD0045 220,000
SA4075 155,000
TAS001 24,000
VIC26178 825,000
WA001 283,020
TOTAL:24 61,516+6,300,000
See bottom of page for a list of Sources.

Do You Have A Bushfire Survival Plan?

There are a lot of questions surrounding why Australia is currently experiencing such a horrific bushfire season, and what is going to be done to contain this.

But as the country gears up for what is looking to be like an historic bushfire season, my question to you is this:

Do you have a Bushfire Survival Plan?

All states have a Fire Service with available information regarding Survival Plans – and it is worth being prepared.

Bushfire Warnings:

The best way to keep updated is to follow, subscribe and check your state Fire Service – they will usually have the most up-to-date information available.

You can also find out your area’s ABC radio frequency – ABC is the official emergency broadcaster in South Australia and many other states.

This may help if you don’t have access to your phone or internet.

What Is Being Done:

As of December, Australia has declared a ‘State of Emergency’ in New South Wales, granting powers to the NSW RFS Commissioner – meaning they can now allocate government resources and direct agencies to take immediate action regarding the crisis.

In New South Wales, where the country has been hit the hardest, there are over 2,000 firefighters working to gain control of the fires – along with aid from the US, Canada and New Zealand being sent in.

The Australian Defence Force has also been deployed, including Naval vessels, Airforce crafts and Army personnel to help with search-and-rescue, firefighting and clean-up efforts.

Multiple GoFundMe and Facebook Fundraiser pages have been set up to help ordinary people donate (Megastar P!nk even donated $500,000), including Celeste Barber’s fundraiser, which has raised over $16 million at the time of writing (05/01/2020).

Climate Change & The Bushfire Crisis:

Whether or not you believe in Climate Change or not, I think we can all agree that these bushfires aren’t normal. If you don’t believe in Climate Change, feel free to skip this section – but it is still something I want to touch on.

I thought I would simply share some of the key findings of the Climate Council’s briefing paper, titled ‘This is Not Normal‘ – and you can all do what you like with that information.

NUMBER ONE:

The catastrophic, unprecedented fire conditions currently affecting New South Wales and Queensland have been aggravated by climate change.

Bushfire risk was exacerbated by record breaking drought, very dry fuels and soils, and record breaking heat.

NUMBER TWO:

Bushfire conditions are now more dangerous than in the past.

The risks to people and property have increased and fire seasons have lengthened. It is becoming more dangerous to fight fires in Australia.

NUMBER THREE:

The fire season has lengthened so substantially that it has already reduced opportunities for fuel reduction burning.

This means it is harder to prepare for worsening conditions.

NUMBER FOUR:

The costs of fighting fires are increasing.

Australia relies on resource sharing arrangements between countries and states and territories within Australia.

As seasons overlap and fires become more destructive, governments will be increasingly constrained in their ability to share resources ad the costs of tackling fires will increase.

NUMBER FIVE:

The government must develop an urgent plan to:

(1) prepare Australian communities, health and emergency services for escalating fire danger; and

(2) rapidly phase out the burning of coal and gas which is driving more dangerous fires.

But most importantly:

Please stay safe. Have a plan. Talk to your loved ones about it. Keep your property clear of anything that can fuel a bushfire. Check the warnings and know when to leave, before it’s too late.

Nothing is more important than the lives of you and your family.

Sources For Above Table:

Working With Young People: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned.

It’s been about 5 months since I started my journey as a Support Worker, but I really wanted to write about some of the things I’ve learned along the way, and how it has helped me become better at my job.

Mid-way through this year, I decided to change the trajectory of my life by switching into a career supporting young people who are under the Guardianship of the Minister (in State care). This is something I have always wanted to do, and I had the qualifications to do it – but never took the leap into the field – preferring stable, (boring) but reliable full-time employment instead.

Working with young people has always appealed to me, given my own background and experiences, which involved drugs, neglect, homelessness, transience and custody disputes between parents. But even though I have had those experiences in the past, each day is entirely different, and nothing can fully prepare you for the wide range of things you hear, experience and see while on shift.*

Assorted-color Alphabet

It’s been about 5 months since I started my journey as a Support Worker, but I really wanted to write about some of the things I’ve learned along the way, and how it has helped me become better at my job.

* Obviously, client confidentiality is of utmost importance when it comes to working with young people, so there will be no mention of names or specific locations etc. in this post.

Keep An Open Mind.


Top View Of Assorted Colored Stones in Wooden Containers

Sometimes people forget that young people in care are just like everyone else their age.

They have dreams, fears, failures and successes, just like you and me – all of which should be nurtured and celebrated.

One of the most valuable things I learned in my training was this:

Change the word attention to connection.

If a young person is exhibiting ‘attention seeking’ behaviours, try seeing those behaviours as ‘connection seeking’ instead.

Young people don’t always know how to express their feelings and fears, or ask for help and encouragement when they desperately need it – and sometimes this can seem like they’re being ‘attention seeking’ or being ‘naughty’ or ‘disruptive’.

Next time you notice a young person exhibiting some interesting behaviours, ask yourself: ‘is this young person seeking connection?’ rather than writing them off as being annoying or naughty, and chances are, you’ll get a better response.

Educate Your Friends & Family.


One of the saddest and most frustrating things I’ve encountered since becoming a Support Worker is the negative reaction of my peers when I tell them I work with young people in care.

There is an automatic stigma associated with these children, which sticks to them like glue, no matter how hard they try to get it off, and society’s attitude doesn’t help.

It is something worth highlighting, because these children are just that – children. People automatically stick their noses up, have an opinion or see these children as criminals before they consider giving them a chance to prove them wrong.

Young people end up in care for a variety of reasons, and it is never their fault. Some of them have parents who are unfit to care for them due to addiction, neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Neon Signage

Some are orphaned and have no other family. Some end up in foster care, but are given back when their behaviour deteriorates due to their trauma. Some have intellectual disabilities that their parents don’t want to deal with. Some are refugees. There are hundreds of reasons children end up in care.

Oftentimes, people look at children in care as lesser than other children. But for me, I look to these children for inspiration. Their resilience is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. These young people have suffered adversity and still try their very best, each day – whatever that may look like. And it’s worth remembering and acknowledging.

Expect The Unexpected.


Photography of Green and Red Fire Works Display

If you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t.

Each shift I work is entirely different. One day I’ll be looking after a toddler, the next day I might be looking after a teenager, or a house full of siblings. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s to never go into a shift with any expectation about how it’s going to go.

I’ve had to clean walls covered in drawings. I’ve wiped poop from walls and hands. I’ve had to follow a kid around in a mini-van trying to convince them to get back in the car after they ran off. I’ve had to call the police, clean wet bed-sheets and listen to music that has so many swear words my brain ends up hurting.

But even more importantly, there are bright, shining, heart-warming moments that I never expected.

I got to be the person to take a child to their first day of school. I’ve had open and honest conversations with young people that have helped me grow as a person. I got taught how to make cold rolls (I always wanted to learn!), I’ve danced around the room with children and teenagers and high-fived toddlers when they realise they haven’t wet the bed.

I’ve seen milestones, birthdays, sad days and happy days, and I’ve seen firsthand just how wonderful, bright and resilient these young people can be.

Never assume you know it all. We truly know nothing. All we can do is expect the unexpected.

Don’t Underestimate Young People.


Silhouette Photo of Man Throw Paper Plane

Many people underestimate young people – even those not in care. But young people aren’t stupid. They’ll know if you’re talking about them – because it happens every day of their life.

They know when you’re being genuine – because they’ve had so many different carers before you.

Young people are in care for a variety of different reasons, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they can tell who has their best interests at heart and who doesn’t.

The young people that I work with also know all of the things they’re allowed and not allowed to do – and sometimes they use this to their advantage – especially if you’re new.

This isn’t something to worry about, generally – most of the things the young people try to get away with, we’ve all tried as a kid. They’ll try and push their bed-times, get extra dessert or negotiate their curfews – all normal kid-type things to do.

The bottom line is that children and young people, no matter who they are or where they live, will test limits and push boundaries. It’s completely normal and to be expected. This is all part of growing up and seeing who sticks around – even when we make mistake or play up.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.


Putting yourself in the shoes of a vulnerable young person can sometimes be hard, especially if you were lucky enough to have had a relatively ‘normal’ or ‘safe’ upbringing.

I find that the best way for me to truly empathise with the young people I work with is to ask myself:

‘Given the circumstances, what would I have done at their age?’

Now this might be difficult if you don’t know the full story. In which case, ask yourself:

‘Do I know enough about this young person to be judging their behaviour?’

Either way, it is helpful to remember these questions when dealing with behaviour that might seem risky, aggressive or otherwise upsetting behaviour.

For example:

Person in Blue Jeans And White Sneakers Standing On Metal Railings

If you had been forced to live off of scraps for most of your life and didn’t know when your next meal would be, wouldn’t you, as a young person, hoard food or steal it where you could, so you felt safe and knew you wouldn’t starve?

If you had grown up in a house where drugs and alcohol were normalized, wouldn’t you, as a young person in a new living environment, have trouble understanding what is safe and what isn’t?

If you, as a young person, had been physically beaten or emotionally abused when you had arguments with your family, want to run away every time you have an argument with someone, so you don’t get hurt?

These may be confronting scenarios, but they are incredibly real.

There is almost always a reason behind why someone does something – even as we mature into adults. We need to be able to see some situations from the perspective of the young people in order to connect with them and find ways to help them.

For more content, see below:

Climate Change Is Changing The Way Young People See Their Future.

If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.

 

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock…

Climate Change is a very real, defining issue of our time. Regardless of whether you live in a place like the United States, where the President denies Climate Change (along with pulling out of the Paris Agreement to curb Carbon Emissions), or somewhere more advanced in its leadership on Climate Change, like France, who’s Prime Minister ended an address on the subject with: ‘Make our planet great again.’ … Boom.

Either way, we all live on the same planet, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to take action on Climate Change if this planet is going to survive even the next 40 years. NASA says the evidence for rapid Climate Change is compelling, noting key indicators, including:

Global Temperature Rises;

Warming Oceans;

Shrinking Ice Sheets;

Glacial Retreats;

Decreased Snow Cover;

Sea Level Rises;

Declining Arctic Sea Ice;

Extreme Weather Events and

Ocean Acidification

Climate Change is affecting the planet in significant, detrimental and soon-to-be irreversible ways. Without drastic action, the planet we know today will be gone, replaced with a landscape characterized catastrophic natural disasters, mass-extinction, global food shortages and increased exposure to conflict.

It’s for this reason that the younger generations are gearing up for a rough ride, and changing the way they see the world, in order to survive the damage our ancestors have inflicted on the planet.

 

 

Young People Don’t Want To Raise Children On A Damaged Planet.

More and more Millenials are becoming concerned with what the future may look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years from now. The phrase ‘I don’t want to bring children into this world’ is something you wouldn’t often have heard someone say 50 years ago. But in this day and age, there is a real, tangible fear of what the future may hold.

Global birth rates are declining, with more people becoming aware of the planet’s situation. The fear of bringing children into a world of uncertainty is a very real issue facing the young people of today. Even as recently as February this year, United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) asked the question ‘Is it still OK to have children?’ on her Instagram Story.

AOC argues that although the answer is not clear-cut, there is a scientific consensus that the lives of future generations will be difficult. And they know it. More and more young people are taking part in Global Climate Change Protests, like those started by Greta Thunberg who recently stated:

‘You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes… We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis…if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then… we should change the system itself.’

– Greta Thunberg

Younger generations are increasingly opting not to have children, with worries of food and water shortages, global unrest, natural disasters and political unrest present themselves as very real threats.

 

 

Young People Have Little Faith In Their Government.

A lot of Millenials are written off as out-of-touch with politics.

But the truth is, Millenials simply have no faith in the people representing them. Evidence of this is in the record number of Australians enrolled to vote this election – 96.8% of the total eligible voting population. This includes a record number of 18-24 year olds.

The world’s leaders have a responsibility to fight against Climate Change. We can only hope that as the older generations die out, they will be replaced with more switched-on individuals, who are dedicated to helping the planet and the people living on it, rather than continuing to be more preoccupied with the 1%:

“That future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to.”

– Greta Thunberg

A survey carried out by Triple J found that 89% of young Australians believe the politicians in power aren’t working in the best interests of the planet. And guess what? Those same young people voted Environmental Policy and Climate Change as the most important issues to them, come election time.

That’s pretty damning.

 

 

Younger Generations Are Experiencing Higher Rates Of Mental Illnesses Dubbed ‘Eco-Anxiety’ or ‘Ecological Grief’.

The negative impact Climate Change is having on the physical environment poses real risks when it comes to the Mental Health of young people. A sense of doom where the future contains things like poverty, unemployment, natural disasters and resource shortages are very real issues that young people are having to face.

Even as far back as 2012, the National Wildlife Federation reported that over 200 million Americans would be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate related incidents. Of a study done by Millennium Kids Inc., 94.6% of the target demographic felt that Climate Change would be a problem in the future.

In the face of a changing climate, Eco-Anxiety is only going to become more and more apparent, with Mental Health organisations starting to get on board, such as ReachOut, who have a page dedicated to: How to cope with anxiety about climate change.

The page in question lists a variety of reasons young people might feel strained, stressed or anxious about Climate Change, including:

Feeling like planning for the future is pointless and/or hopeless;

Angry that the people around them aren’t doing anything to help;

Frustration at a lack of action they can take to help;

Worrying about whether it’s responsible to have children (see above) and

Feeling like their future is out of their control.

All very valid points. Climate Change is a hugely relevant issue in the world today, and one that deserves to be treated with urgency.

 


HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. There are lots of ways you can help the environment in meaningful ways, including:

 

Taking part in conversations with others about Climate Change

Joining the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition

Taking part in School Strike 4 Climate

Joining the Australian Student Environment Network

Finding articles about ways to help the environment at home

Being active on Social Media Platforms

Joining clean up efforts, such as Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign

 

 

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