BOOKS

OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ME­MOIR / SURVIVALIST THRILLER / IDOL STAR’S BAT­TLE WITHIN / CHART­ING A DIS­AS­TROUS VOY­AGE

Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Contents -

FROM THE COR­NER OF THE OVAL OF­FICE

Beck Dorey-Stein

PEN­GUIN, $35

Beck Dorey-Stein was a tu­tor at an elite Wash­ing­ton DC school when she landed a job as a stenog­ra­pher in the White House with first-term pres­i­dent Barack Obama. She spent ev­ery work­ing hour with a mi­cro­phone and recorder in hand, cap­tur­ing ev­ery word the charis­matic pres­i­dent ut­tered, on Air Force One to al­most ev­ery coun­try on the map through to Obama fam­ily hol­i­days. Dur­ing that time she es­caped in her own writ­ing, spent time on a tread­mill be­side POTUS, formed a close bond with fel­low staffers, but most sig­nif­i­cantly she fell in love with a se­nior mem­ber of Obama’s team. This clan­des­tine and doomed ro­mance, which spans years, weighs heav­ily on Dorey-Stein’s mind. But what is most ev­i­dent from this in­sight­ful and com­pul­sively read­able me­moir is the ad­mi­ra­tion and love she and fel­low staff have for the man they served. PAUL HUNTER

VER­DICT: Pres­i­den­tial per­fect

LEAVE NO TRACE

Mindy Me­jia

HA­CHETTE, $30

Maya Stark is a speech ther­a­pist with a dark his­tory. Her un­der­stand­ing of “crazy” — based on her own time in the psy­chi­atric in­sti­tu­tion where she now works — gives her an ef­fec­tive ap­proach with dif­fi­cult pa­tients. It’s use­ful when Lu­cas Black­thorn is brought in — re­fus­ing to com­mu­ni­cate — after a decade away from so­ci­ety with his fa­ther in the Bound­ary Waters. He’s vi­o­lent and un­co­op­er­a­tive, but recog­nises some­thing in Maya, and the two form a bond. The Bound­ary Waters is a vast area of Min­nesota along the Cana­dian bor­der — a wilder­ness of wa­ter and for­est over 4400sq km. He’s des­per­ate to re­turn there, a pull Maya un­der­stands, given her own as­so­ci­a­tions with the ter­ri­tory. As the two be­come closer, Maya won­ders how far she’ll go to help Lu­cas and to get her own an­swers. Me­jia’s en­joy­able thriller draws on re­mark­able tales of sur­vival­ists who’ve turned their backs on the modern world. CORINNA HENTE

VER­DICT: A page-turner

BACK, AFTER THE BREAK

Osher Guns­berg

HARPERCOLLINS, $33

TV star Osher Guns­berg has spo­ken be­fore about his bat­tle with men­tal ill­ness in in­ter­views, so­cial me­dia posts and his pod­casts. But here we get the full story — from anx­ious, obese, weird-about-sex teen An­drew Guns­berg, to the party-hard Andy G of Chan­nel V and Aus­tralian Idol fame, the break­down, di­vorce and demons and even­tu­ally the new dawn — that has shaped the Osher Guns­berg of to­day. There are ad­ven­tures ahoy, in­clud­ing his start in mu­sic as a roadie for bands in Bris­bane and his first for­ma­tive over­seas trip with his doc­tor dad, mov­ing to LA and ne­go­ti­at­ing the fame ma­chine, and the longterm ef­fects of be­ing in New York dur­ing the Septem­ber 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. It’s a wild ride — sad and frus­trat­ing, too, as Guns­berg wages daily war with booze as well as his own brain for sev­eral years — but this is a story of sur­vival, the power of get­ting good help, and how love can con­quer all. ME­GAN MILLER

VER­DICT: Man alive

HELL SHIP

Michael Veitch

ALLEN & UN­WIN, $33

In Au­gust 1852, the sail­ing ship Ti­con­deroga left Eng­land crammed with em­i­grants seek­ing a bet­ter life in Aus­tralia. Nor­mally the three­month voy­age was dan­ger­ous, but the Ti­con­deroga’s pas­sen­gers and crew faced an ex­tra threat: a ty­phoid out­break. As the crowded ship headed to Mel­bourne, the death toll rose and ports re­fused to al­low the ship to dock and seek med­i­cal help. Bod­ies weren’t cold be­fore they were dumped over­board and even when the ship did reach Vic­to­ria, sur­vivors were told to dis­em­bark on a lonely beach and fend for them­selves. Veitch’s great­great-grand­par­ents were on board and, un­til now, the story of the dis­as­trous voy­age was lit­tle more than fam­ily le­gend. But with the same metic­u­lous re­search he has put into his books on war­time avi­a­tors, Veitch fleshes out a tale of courage and tragedy and brings it to life with drama, pas­sion and de­tail. JEFF MAY­NARD

VER­DICT: True hor­ror

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