Book Review: The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner, Grace Tame
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, the cover of Grace Tames’ long-awaited memoir is worth mentioning. It’s a detailed pencil sketch: two faces of Grace; one is full of hope, looking into the distance; the other, clutching his head, looking down. The heads are surrounded by almost mythical symbolism: eagles, snakes, skulls, a hand holding a chess piece, wolves, spiders, butterflies and fish. It’s a striking cover and even more so when you learn that Tame drew it herself. A picture is worth a thousand words and it’s a suitable heavy volume opening.
You pick up her book and wonder what a 28-year-old woman’s memoir might entail. But Tame’s life hasn’t been like the others, plus she’s funny. Memories skate between dark and light, sometimes mocking the dark. Her descriptions of family and youth are tied to the grooming and sexual assaults that occurred when she was 14 years old. You realize how young she was when these descriptions pop up early, among her host’s stories of aunts and eating Coco Pops with her. cousin.
“The general public only knows a relatively whitewashed version of my story. Not necessarily because I hid it in plain sight, but because honestly reflecting on one’s own life, especially the more painful parts of it , is incredibly confronting,” Tame says in the first chapter.
She also talks about her autism and how it manifests; especially how it manifested following the trauma of sexual abuse. Tame details the media frenzy, including hapless documentary makers trying to sensationalise her trauma. She analyzes the influences and experiences that brought her to where she is today; both good and bad. She makes her political views clear (yes, she weighs in on JK Rowling), even at the risk of alienating non-progressive leftist readers.
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Tame’s voice is confident and self-aware (although when she references her ghostwriters in the acknowledgments, you wonder what the book-writing process was). There are vast chunks of personal history, some of which are interesting while other parts are tedious work. The color photographs in the middle of Tame’s book at different ages in her life help paint a clearer picture of the words you are reading.
It’s a fascinating look into the mind of a young woman whose face is so familiar, her voice less so – until now. The voice is a recurring theme throughout the memoir and Tame’s last words are fitting: “May these words bring you home”. For anyone who has struggled with their own trauma, this book is a must.
The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: Memoirs of Grace Tame
Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia
Release date: September 27, 2022