What is this about?: This is a story about grief, about the all encompassing kind that pulls you under and won’t let go. It’s about family, about not coping with loss and letting the silences between you grow bigger.
What else is this about?: This is Chloe Higgins’ story about how she didn’t deal with the loss of her sisters after they died. The thing is, you’ll relate to everything she says.
‘An astounding new voice whose work mines the slippery regions between grief, sex, love, parents and children. This book is a rare find.’ FELICITY CASTAGNA
‘A tender and heartfelt book, exploring the intricacies and long aftermath of trauma and grief with great frankness and directness. Its honest and exacting exploration of what happens to the body and the self in grief is deeply moving, without being excoriating, and the writing is both lyrical and tough – Higgins has a distinctive and accomplished voice, and this book is a beautiful achievement.’ FIONA WRIGHT
‘An urgent, poetic and skinless howl of a book.’ LEE KOFMAN
In 2005, Chloe Higgins was seventeen years old. She and her mother, Rhonda, stayed home so that she could revise for her HSC exams while her two younger sisters, Carlie and Lisa, went skiing with their father. On the way back from their trip, their car veered off the highway, flipped on its side and burst into flames. Both her sisters were killed. Their father walked away from the accident with only minor injuries.
This book is about what happened next.
The Girls is about death — Chloe Higgins’ sisters, Carlie and Lisa, died in a car accident, while their father survived.
How does a family — a sister survive that?
In this case, the answer is almost — you can’t really survive that.
To review The Girls is to review a brutally honest, no holds barred account of grief, about the splintering of a family in some ways. Higgins chronicles the aftermath of her sisters’ death, her father who wanted desperately to know what happened (what he did) that day and her mother who was trying to hold everyone together — too tightly.
This was hard book to read because there were so many elements of Higgins’ experience of certain moments that I could relate too — especially mis-remembering things. There are days and days that I don’t remember in the aftermath of my father’s death, and most recently in my aunt’s passing. My sisters remember things clearly, and I pretend and nod that I do the same. Other things, I remember extensively.
I think that’s why I couldn’t stop reading this — Higgins honesty made me be honest with myself in terms of my own experiences, and sometimes, I know it’s easier just to lie to myself about the aftermath of grief I’ve experienced.
Higgins chronicles her sex work, drug use, her success at writing and the destruction of important relationships in her life, as well as those that she made that are still important to her. She is as brutal with her parents in their grief as she is with herself and I don’t think this book would have had as much of an impact if she wasn’t.
The Girls is the chronicle of grief you may not want to read, but you should. It’s the kind of honesty that leaves a mark on you, and lingers long after you’ve finished this book.