Olympic fever runs high in the Australian summer of 1999 and 17-year-old Sydney has caught it. Little does she know taking a holiday job in the beehive that is the Olympics’ public-transport call centre will be life altering. Shaken by her parents’ divorce, the sheltered Aussie is further plagued by abusive callers, obnoxious government agencies, constrictive office rules, and liberated friends. She is trying to negotiate these challenges as her own personal Olympics when Pete finds her. Pete, Boston’s former child prodigy whose soothing voice floats across her workstation, sees through Sydney’s tough outer shell. Pete knows what it takes to present a dignified front when all you want to do is howl at the moon. Treating their friendship like an art, he invests time and creative effort to pull Sydney out of her despair.
Tragedy strikes when an accident leaves Pete with a major brain injury in a Boston hospital. When the going gets very, very tough, will you abandon the one who has promised to love you until he dies?
Set in Sydney and Boston where heartbreaks are juxtaposed humour, SYDNEY’S SONG is a young girl’s courageous journey to adulthood and a love story. A work of fiction based on real events, this novel with an Australian accent also shows the world that living with disabilities does not prevent a person from attaining happiness.
Below is a sample of this book:
“How will you cope with a disabled person who’ll forever be dependent on you for pretty much everything? How are you going to finance your life? That is, if you can even do that. How will you get him to marry you when he can’t even recognise you, let alone talk and go through a marriage ceremony?
“Yes Sydney, we’re talking marriage here. Big-eyed, are you? You can’t possibly stay in the US. What work can you do there to support yourself? Flipping burgers or waiting tables? You have to bring him down here. And how do you think you can do this if you aren’t married to him? You don’t even have a decent income to support his expenses. You think our Immigration will grant a burdensome foreigner entry and get free hospital and medical support like the rest of us Aussies?
“Do you understand that? A disabled person will need looking after all day. It’s a gruelling task. How will you do that by yourself? You can’t afford to be a dropout because your study is something to fall back on. Your future kids will require expenses. They won’t appreciate parents who are Centrelink parasites—one on disability pension, the other an underpaid worker. Where will your self-esteem be when you depend on tax payers’ handout? So you need a good job for your family’s survival. For your own dignity. For your sanity. Do you see all that?
“And what about fun? You’re only 18. 18! You want to throw away your youth just like that? For an injured man? How long can you cope? How long before you cave in under the burden? And what about sex? Yes, Sydney. You won’t be young and innocent for always. One day you’ll grow up and you will need sex. Suppose he remains a vegetable. There wouldn’t be any sex. There wouldn’t be kids either. What then? You’d be chained to him. Would you grow to hate him? Would you cheat on him?
“And your parents love you so much! Neither of them will allow you to throw your life away just because you can’t get over this enormous feeling of love. Yes he was great, before the accident. But are you prepared to accept him if it turned out to be the worst?
“So think this through. Evaluate all possible consequences. Think calmly. Take your time. If you think you could cope with all that, if you think you could come up with the solution to every single question that I’ve just mentioned, bring your proposal to us tomorrow. Or whenever you’re ready. Explain why your parents should allow you to go to the US. Why it is the only sensible thing to do. Rationally like an adult, not emotionally. And don’t give me smart-assed juvenile answers. I want you to use your brain.
“Think long term. If we lend you money to finance this trip, and give you connections to gain the necessary visa, outline how you’ll pay us back. For your mother, the greatest payback will be your safety and happiness. But don’t take advantage of her. An adult acts like an adult—meaning they pay their own way. They make money to support their decisions and their lifestyle. They have the dignity not to whine and beg!”
Sydney’s Song by Ia Uaro – $5.99