Alicia's Reviews > The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
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it was amazing
bookshelves: abuse, adult, biography-memoir, family, female, glbt, nonfiction, stem-nature, politics-justice, religion

This one, like Jahren's Lab Girl, blew me away with the writing. It was easy and flowing but hard-scrabble and real. Oh so real.

A biography of Sandra Pankhurst who overcame an abusive childhood after being given up by her birth parents to a Catholic church who placed her with a family who wasn't supposed to have children. Well, after a few years, they magically did and then promptly displaced Peter (Sandra was born Peter) to a room in the backyard and there were major restrictions on her comings-and-goings, how long she was able to be in the house, whether she got any food, and there were traumatic beatings, especially from the alcoholic father (who also beat the mother). Finally booted out without any love at 17, there was a series of activities and events that led to how Sandra lives her life now in Australia. As she figured out who she was, actually marrying and having children before transitioning, working as a sex worker and being abused in that capacity, before finding a position in a funeral home which eventually parlayed into her own company cleaning up traumatic sites like scenes of homicides or suicides, unattended deaths, or hoarding.

Sandra is a commanding figure and her humanity is what Krasnostein's aim is in the story. She not only humanizes Sandra but also the people whose houses Sandra works in. The story is two-fold, Sandra's story and chapter headings with the names of the houses and people Sandra meets at her cleaning job which is captivating. It's how Sandra interacts with these people that is an element of the biography. The book is structurally magnificent and the tone of the story strikes a chord with readers. We want to root for Sandra in every way. She made mistakes. Did drugs. Left her children. But she also wants human connection and to do a good job and contribute in making others feel good.

All around fabulous adult nonfiction that is a human interest biographical tale of Sandra. Well-done like Stranger in the Woods in which it's someone else writing the story of these endlessly fascinating individuals.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 2, 2019 – Shelved
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: abuse
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: adult
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: biography-memoir
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: family
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: female
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: glbt
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: nonfiction
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: stem-nature
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: politics-justice
June 2, 2019 – Shelved as: religion
June 2, 2019 – Finished Reading

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