The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen
Lucky is a galah living in the remote town of Port Badminton, on the north-west coast of Australia, and she is a born storyteller. With the help of a defunct satellite dish, which can sporadically communicate the thoughts of the town’s residents, Lucky is able to show her audience who people are when they are alone. Lucky’s own story is intertwined with that of the Johnson family, who in the late 1960s move from cosmopolitan Melbourne to tiny Port Badminton, where patriarch Evan has a job as an engineer assisting NASA in their race to put man on the moon. While Evan relishes the fresh start, his wife Linda struggles – the heat, the tight-knit community and the expectations she must now live up to frequently overwhelm her.
A novel narrated by a galah might seem slightly avant-garde; one narrated by a galah receiving transmissions from a satellite dish even more so. However, I think it gives Tracy Sorensen’s writing a sense of wonder – I felt like I was experiencing all of Lucky’s triumphs and setbacks as she was. Lucky’s role in this book is to draw all of its threads together and, with the help of the satellite dish, she does this very effectively. What this novel does above all else is capture the moment right before everything changed – 1969 was the eve of a social revolution in Australia. We see this change occur through the transformation of housewife Linda Johnson, but also see her neighbour, Marjorie Kelly, left behind by the very same revolution.
This is the story of the life of a galah, but also one about living through loneliness, change, and the frustration of feeling stagnant. It is a book that is at once humorous and heartfelt, and evokes a specific era in Australian history very well.