Review: Petrea King – Up Until Now

Up Until Now
Petrea King

Petrea grew up in a household with a father suffering from PTSD and a demanding, yet fragile older brother who eventually killed himself alone overseas. Petrea herself is diagnosed with cancer and given a limited time left with her two children and her estranged partner. Unsatisfied and unhappy with her life, Petrea finds herself able to help others so that she can help herself.

Lyrically written and with beautiful prose, you will find yourself travelling deeply into Petrea’s consciousness throughout her life. This memoir is one of the more enjoyable ones I have read, although at times I found myself having to hold onto my disbelief at how things worked out so conveniently. I AM a scientist by trade after all.

Sometimes I felt like Petrea’s introspection was too much for me, and was too self-absorbed compared to what a normal person could achieve (although of course I would not wish her life circumstances on anyone). I think this is because I feel like only people who can go and meditate in a cave for months in peace could reach that level of enlightenment and contentedness. *If only* I think to myself, if I too could meditate for hours I would also reach that same level of being ok with the world. This is my envy speaking.

It’s important to remember that this is one woman’s story, and that she has written it to inform people about her life, and her opinions, not a life-path that everyone can follow. For people who feel inspired by her story of healing herself both physiologically and psychologically, Petrea has written a range of other novels. I would expect that those are equally well-written and enjoyable, and I will read any that wander my way.

This is a superior novel to Standing on my Brother’s Shoulders in terms of a sister dealing with her brother’s suicide. The writing style of this novel is lovely and consistent, despite Petrea’s insistence that she is not naturally good at writing (given that she didn’t have much formal schooling). You will likely enjoy this novel if you like thoughtful novels that prompt contemplation and want to balance a discussion of how Western and other Traditional practices can work together. I am overseas, and so this novel will likely not come home with me due to baggage limits, but if I was at home it would remain on my shelf.

Allen & Unwin | 23rd August 2018 | AU$32.99 | paperback

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