Ache reviewed by Tara

Annie grew up on the mountain with her grandmother, mother and uncle. She knew it intimately, having traversed it on her horse, explored it with her friends and walked the trails searching for lyre birds with her uncle. Although she moved to the city when she married, Annie and her daughter, Pip, were visiting the mountain when the bushfire started.

The last time she saw Gladys, her grandmother, Gladys was urging Annie to take Pip and flee the mountain on her horse. After the fire went through, Annie went back to the mountain to assist her uncle tend to the wounded animals. They walked slowly across the devastated mountain and did what they could.

The fires on the mountain changed everything. The fires changed the physical landscape of the mountain. They also changed the landscape inside of the people that were involved.  Although months have passed, things haven’t returned to normal for Annie and Pip. There is a constant ache within. Annie feels distanced from her husband, and has lost interest in her work. Nothing feels right. Pip insists on being called Phillip, and is inseparable from a worn green scarf that she uses to cover her face. A

nnie is also concerned about her mother’s behaviour. She is drawn back to the mountain to confront her memories and process what has happened, with the hope of moving forward. 

Ache is an insightful story about bushfire trauma. The personal struggles of the characters and the struggles of the community are sensitively described as the story unfolds. There is rawness and a strong sense of hope. It is a beautiful story of resilience, connection and regeneration.

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