Holy heck. What a book. I had heard rave reviews about this book almost everywhere I looked when it came out back in 2018, but it wasn’t until Leigh Sales & Annabel Crabb were talking about it on their podcast, Chat 10 Looks 3, that I finally decided to pick it up off my shelf and MAN I’m glad I did.
Trigger warning on this book/review for sexual assault & self-harm.
Eggshell Skull tells Bri Lee’s story of working as a Judge’s associate doing the circuits in rural Queensland, and seeing the vast number of sexual assault cases that come through these courts. This is the catalyst for the author recognising & unpicking her own childhood trauma, speaking up, and finding her strength to fight in a raw, gut-wrenching memoir.
I am one of what feels now like the lucky few who have gone through life largely untouched by the traumatic topics touched on in this memoir, so it was incredibly eye-opening for me to read about one woman’s account of not only the way the law deals with these cases, but also the internal & external barriers women face in coping with and reporting sexual assault crimes. Of course, it needs to be kept in mind that this is only one woman’s outlook & view, and one woman cannot speak for all, but FAR OUT was it a compelling read! It also drew me in as Lee’s experience from the ‘other side’ of these cases as Judge’s associate added another dimension to the story that many other complainants in sexual assault cases would not have.
I won’t lie, it was rough going reading this at times, purely from the subject matter and the sheer number of cases Lee talks about in the first half of the book before she gets in to the ‘meat’ of her own case. Added to this is Lee’s strong sense of self-loathing that stems from the assault she experienced, and leads to bulimic tendencies & self-harm which can be pretty hard scenes to swallow and absolutely left a sense that there was a stone of anger and injustice in my gut. The whole story seems ridiculously unfair, and the knowledge that Lee’s suffering reflects that of thousands of women across Australia makes it all the worse. And yet…there is a wry sense of humour that shines through as she recounts interactions with ‘Judge’ and her friends which just about manages to pick you up in scenes of almost total despair at the state of humanity, and definitely encourages you to keep reading on.
Once I hit the section of the book that mainly focuses on Bri’s personal experience with reporting her assault & going through the legal system, I actually couldn’t put the book down. I spent 3 hours straight of my Sunday morning devouring the book, unable to tear my eyes away from the page until I finished with tears in my eyes. Thank goodness CK likes to sleep in so much, I was without interruption! 😉
I fear if I talk too much more about this book I will ‘give it away’, but I can tell you that without a doubt it’s one of the most important books I have read this year. I saw a Goodreads review that simply read:
I want to get this book and smush it into the face of every single male in australia. Just smush it deep, deep into their face until they get it.
Honestly, same. I have the good fortune to be surrounded by some incredible, kind, ‘woke’ men in my life but it’s a book that pretty much EVERYONE could do with reading, regardless. So, if there is one book recommendation you take from me this year, please let it be this.
Read if: You’re anyone, especially Aussie – such an eye-opening book to the reality of sexual assault cases in our country.
Page Length: 357
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
What eye-opening book have you read lately? Have you read Eggshell Skull? I’d love to hear your thoughts!