The Paper House- Anna Spargo-Ryan

It was all an idea, but it was never going to be reality.

Heather and Dave have an idea- an ideal house where they can be a family and start their new life in the Western side of the peninsula in Melbourne. In their eighth month of the pregnancy, they are informed that their baby girl has died.

Melbourne based writer Anna Spargo-Ryan writes about family, mental illness and relationships in her first novel ever, The Paper House. This book demonstrates how a beautiful idea can turn deadly. It is an explorative novel about the impact of a miscarriage on a woman, her relationships and her surroundings.

Set in Melbourne, it is a story that feels so close to home and intrigued me from the beginning. The unique writing style uses lyrical poetry and is so descriptive and observant from the start that it immediately painted a picture in my mind, connecting me to the characters Heather and Dave emotionally and evoking empathy.

However, at times the writing is too descriptive and jumps from scene to scene in a manner that can be confusing. At times the author describes the surroundings in so much detail that the main point of the chapter is lost or difficult to keep track of. In saying this, the story is told gorgeously and you feel a sense of beautiful melancholy throughout the entire novel.

We are taken on an emotional and emphatic journey about the past and present whereby Heather experiences loss, tragedy, misfortune, mental illness, grief and a surprising connection to her mother. Like her mother, Heather finds peace in art. Only after her loss does she comprehend what her own mother went through in the past.

We are revealed hints in certain chapters which are portrayed by Heather as a little girl, and we get a glimpse of her traumatic childhood due to the loss of her mother. The real truth about this tragedy is however not revealed until the book ends.

It is a heartfelt story about sadness, misfortune and heartbreak that you actually enjoy reading. Were it not for the author’s style of writing, I probably would not have read the book up until the end based on its themes alone. For this reason, I am very impressed and this book was one that left me pensive and considering the tragic after-effects of a miscarriage- something that I honestly had not thought about prior to reading this book.

I had challenged myself by picking a book that I knew I would not fall in love with but wanted to simply explore. The result has left me startled, excited and sad all at the same time. When an author can successfully achieve the objective of provoking thought and emotion within the reader, then no matter what the topic or themes of the book are I consider it a good read and recommend it. The Paper House is a novel that will resonate with you long after the last page.



Frank & Lola

A haunting and dangerously compelling love thriller

Ever wondered how far you would go for vengeance in order to protect the one you love?

Director of Frank & Lola Matthew Ross achieves suspense and surprise start to finish leaving the viewer to wonder and question the practicality of the relationship between love and morality. The director beautifully demonstrates the fragility of human condition and how vulnerable we can all be when in love. “It was inspired by a sort of personal story… it was pretty complicated and dark,” the director tells in an interview.

It begins like your typical love story- man and woman go on a date, have butterflies in their stomach and have passionate sex. You cannot help but fall in love with Frank (Michael Shannon) and Lola (Imogen Poots). Magnificently played by Michael Shannon, Frank is mysteriously charming and unpredictable.

The beauty of this movie is that the connection between Frank and Lola is very real. The love between them is raw. The emotion and passion between them almost makes you disregard the rotten and dangerous nature of their relationship. Their love is a sick love, but they are love-sick. It turns out to be anything but your typical love story.

Infidelity, betrayal, vengeance and love all meet simultaneously in this spine-chilling psychosexual thriller. Despite the melancholy that surrounds them, Frank and Lola are drawn to each other like two very flawed magnets.

The structure of this movie is such that there are no unnecessary scenes. It is to the point and keeps the viewer on edge every minute of it. The unpredictability of Frank and Lola’s actions is captivating and thought provoking. What makes this love story different is that it is not a good love, it is not a healthy love, yet you still cannot decide if you want Frank and Lola to be together or not.

Despite the cruel nature of the relationship damaging Frank and Lola psychologically and physically, their love is genuine and passionate. Matthew Ross hooks the viewer and leaves the ending open to interpretation, letting you decide the ending you want for the two incompatible but oh so compatible lovers.

This is a chilling story that does not simply end when the credits roll up. It stays with you long after watching it. Frank and Lola’s story lives on, and what happens next is up to you.


Protesters Fight For Justice Against Reclaim Australia

The Radical Women society, and organizers of the rally.

Angry anti-racism and anti-fascism campaigners gathered together on the 3rd of April in Swanston Street to protest against anti-Islamic group Reclaim Australia. The rally was held outside the State Library at around 2 pm and consisted of approximately sixty protesters, who chanted and displayed anti-racism messages such as “Say no to Islamophobia” and “Muslims are welcome, racists are not.”  It was the one year anniversary since Reclaim Australia held rallies around the country to protest against Islam.

Reclaim Australia is an organization which has held rallies across Australia from 2015 to protest against Islam.

The anti Reclaim Australia rally was organized by the society of ‘Radical women’, which stands to campaign against racism and fascism in Melbourne.  Activist Debbie Brennan is part of the organization and displayed a sign titled ‘War and Austerity are the problem. Go after Capitalism!’, claiming that Reclaim Australia needs to be eradicated.

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“We have been counter-mobilizing all year, and we have kept the fascists from building a big movement.” Said Mrs Brennan. “We are going to continue to do this, and we have to build a really big anti-fascist movement.” Although Police were present at the rally, no violent acts or injuries occurred.

Reclaim Australia has held rallies over the past year in Melbourne and other cities around Australia including Canberra, Perth and Brisbane. Due to the formation of Reclaim Australia, the United Patriots Front was established in May 2015, further opposing Islam in Australia.

Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front opponent Andrew Lebusque expressed that Islamophobia is “unfounded”. “To say that all of them (Muslims) are exactly the same is silly because not even everyone here in this little square where we are are the same,” said Mr Lebusque. “I’m not the same as you, or the guy right next to me. To think that all Muslims act and think the same way doesn’t make any sense.”

Campaigners claimed they were hoping to face-off with Reclaim Australia protesters, however they did not show up.

“They’ve slowly been pushing their Muslim agenda, and slowly but surely bringing in agendas about anti-Jewish and anti-women and it is just getting more and more extreme,” Mr Lebusque stated.

Twenty-five year old Australian Nathan Hunt said he is not surprised at the absence of Reclaim Australia. “The cowards that they are, what do you expect. That group is just too ridiculous to even be real,” said Mr Hunt. “Real Aussies welcome you no matter where you’re from or what religion you practice.”

Social Crisis on the Rise

Social Crisis on the Rise

By Ayesha Sohail

We are partly defined by the company we keep. This is true because we adapt to our closest company’s lifestyle including their values and hobbies. These influence our own lives more than we may think. If your best friend is job-less and continuously voices that they see no point in working, it is going to effect the way you view your job.

Surround yourself with people who like to party every weekend and you will find yourself wasted with fewer brain cells every weekend. Surround yourself with people who like to eat for a living and you will eventually find yourself in a fat coma sitting on the couch contemplating your life. Surround yourself with motivated individuals who work hard each day to get somewhere, and you will find yourself doing the same. You get the picture.

So why is it that so many of us- the younger generation in particular keep the wrong company? With so much potential going to waste because of this need to conform with the society’s latest trend, there is a reduced focus on your future goals and dreams.

I am not saying don’t socialize. But learn to socialize, with the right crowd. If you can live the heavy party life and stay focused on your life goals then by all means, continue. But I guarantee you that by replacing your social peers with those more like yourself, you will learn to effortlessly balance your time and mental energy efficiently between your own personal life, and your social life, and you will progress towards your goals faster.

By simply surrounding yourself with people, or even one person who shares the same mentality about life that you do, you will learn to move forward in a simpler manner. If your friends or family members share a different perspective than you, that’s fine. I’m not saying they are holding you back, but they just cannot comprehend your way of thinking in a way that will provide the strongest motivation. And whilst the people who see the world through your lens will be motivation, they won’t be the strongest either.

In life you will come across a variety of people, and the way you manage these social interactions is crucial. In the end it is only yourself that can provide the strongest motivation for getting where you want to be. But it is essential to learn what type of social group you want to be associated with, and if this is difficult, then you need to find a way of keeping your individuality intact.

Socialize, but be well aware of each person around you and what kind of energy they bring in to your life. Experiment with all aspects of life, but remember your limits. At the end of the day, it is only you that completely grasps the value of your life ambitions, goals and dreams, remember that.

Life in Islam

By Ayesha Sohail

Prejudice and discrimination towards the Muslim community in Melbourne is an ongoing issue, presenting Muslims as a ‘threat to our way of life’.

Public displays of Islamophobia, particularly online are encouraging individuals to continue the discrimination towards the Muslim community.

Eighteen year old Islamic student Zaitun Hussein had a terrifying encounter with an anti-Muslim man on a Metro train last year on the Flinders line, leaving her nineteen year old sister, sixteen year old friend and herself scared for their safety.

“This was during the time that the Sydney Siege was happening, and this man was saying to others on the train that if you see a Muslim, you should bash them,” Ms Hussein said. The student described the man to be in his thirties. “…No one on the train helped… I was very scared, we thought he was going to hit us.”

Ms Hussein suggested that Islamophobia stems from people being uneducated about the Islamic culture. “My mum always says it’s our part to try and educate them, but sometimes I think that’s not fair, I get tired of doing that.”

Twenty five year old construction worker and supporter of ‘Reclaim Australia’ Robert Tompson claims that only Australians should live in Australia. “When Muslims come to Australia, they bring their culture over here and we don’t need or want it,” Said Mr Tompson. “…And burkas should not be allowed because this is Australia and we don’t do that.”

Despite attempts to reduce racism towards Muslims across Melbourne, many victims of Islamophobia still fear going out in public, especially the women of Islam.

Australian Muslim women centre for human rights community worker and mother of two, Jaweria Khalid claims that Islamophobia is a perpetuating issue in Melbourne, and needs to be stopped. “We have individual responsibilities to get to know those different from us, and understand their lifestyle.”

Mrs Khalid said that the media plays a role in the degradation of Islam, claiming that it can cause the Islamic community to feel ‘very low and unaccepted in society’. “It is important for the media to help by displaying the positive stories of Islam also, instead of always showing the negative stories about Muslims nowadays,” Mrs Khalid said.

Mrs Khalid claimed racism towards the Islamic culture is causing Muslim women in particular to avoid leaving their own homes.

“Most important thing is for others to understand the Islamic culture and for them to understand that we are just like them, we all have work and life struggles…we are all human,” Mrs Khalid said.

A young Muslim woman reading the Holy Quran.
A young Muslim woman reading the Holy Quran.

Coconut drink blamed for child’s death

Importer Fabby Foods from Coburg has pleaded guilty in September in the Supreme Court after failing to mention all the ingredients included in their products, causing a young boy from Melbourne to die.

7-Eleven sold a Five Palms Natural Coconut drink in Olinda, the Dandenong Ranges which has caused controversy across the country. A ten year old boy experienced an allergic reaction from an ingredient in the milk which was not mentioned on the canned product.

“No parents should have to live through this heartbreak. It’s awful.” said With Allergies Australia director Sarah Patterson. “I see a lot of  imported products on supermarket shelves and wonder what is really inside them. You really don’t know…Lives are in danger.”

Victorian Food Importers Federation CEO Sam Mendes said that members need to look carefully at labelling, and they need to check that with their suppliers overseas.