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Publisher's Summary

Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife... but as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less. A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for 40 years. A man who bled quietly to death in his living room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris, and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose. 
Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead - and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together. 
Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Literature. 
Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Nonfiction.
©2018 Blackstone Publishing (P)2018 Sarah Krasnostein
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By C. Burke on 08-04-18

did not like it

I struggled to even get through the first few chapters. I did not enjoy this book and was looking forward to hearing more about the career aspects and the drama that lead up to the career was very dreary and boring. this book could not hold my attention passed the intro. read it due to a book club choosing. I would have never chose such a snooze fest. blah!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By LitWitWineDine on 06-30-18

Beautiful, emotional, and perfectly narrated.

I’ve been chewing on this review for days and I’m sure I won’t do this one justice. How do you put into words a story that makes your heart heavy with sorrow and full of love, joy, and compassion at the same time? I’d have a hard time formulating an answer the question “what is it about?”. I keep ending up with some sort of grammatically incorrect, run-on gibberish that goes something like this: It’s about this woman’s life, only she wasn’t born in a woman’s body, whose parent’s were horribly abusive but somehow she maintains this amazing level of dignity through all of these shitty things that happen to in her life, and not only that but she goes on to run this very successful and interesting business where she employs all of the empathy and compassion she was either born with or has acquired because of her experiences (probably both) to help other people who are at or near rock bottom when they need her services. Or she cleans up the messes their dead bodies make.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll try to make my thoughts a little more coherent. The Trauma Cleaner is a beautifully written story about Sandra Pankhurst, owner of Specialized Trauma Cleaning Services (STC) in Australia. The chapters alternate between Sandra’s personal story and those of a few of her clients. Sandra’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. One should be prepared to read, or in my case listen to, some very disturbing details. It’s been decades since I read A Child Called It, and while I don’t recall all of the details of that book, I recall parts of it making me feel quite similarly.

I really don’t want to say much more about Sandra’s story or that of her clients. That is for the reader to discover. What I’d like to tell you about is what makes this story so special and why I grew so fond of Sandra and the author, Sarah Krasnostein.

First, this book is filled with empathy and respect. Hoarders, sex workers, LGBTQIA, those with behavioral health issues, and every other marginalized or otherwise disenfranchised person or group mentioned in this book is spoken of with tenderness and respect.

Second, and this is very me-specific, I really liked and identified with Sandra. She reminded me of bits and pieces of my grandmother, myself, and a few my favorite nurse/healtcare co-workers over the years. As a matter of fact, I found her to be as much, if not more, a carer than a cleaner. She really has a gift of relating to all kinds of people in the way that works for them. She uses candor, humor, and when needed, tough love. She would be an excellent nurse herself.

I’m really very glad that I listened to The Trauma Cleaner I think I was even more engaged than if I’d been reading it. Rachael Tidd was an excellent narrator.

I didn’t do any research on Sandra prior to completing my listen and I’m glad I didn’t. After I was through, I did some Googling and found some great articles and interviews. I’m not including links because I think it’s better to go in not knowing much beyond the blurb but wanted to mention that they are out there.

** This book contains graphic descriptions of child abuse and (adult) sexual abuse.**

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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