Amy Silva is not your ordinary army ‘wife’. She’s organic-produce adoring, hemp-wearing nuevo-hippy. Her boyfriend, Dylan Brookes, thrives in the macho environment of the Army while maintaining a love of Amy’s wilful difference. As Amy says, “Every day I live with the contradiction. The Pacifist Hippy, in love with The Gun-Toting Soldier.”
But all that changes when Amy finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and sucked up into the medicalised world of pregnancy and childbirth – a world where Amy feels more than uncomfortable. She feels downright disempowered, out of control and ignored by the “best obstetrician in Darwin”.
Amy embarks on a quest to come to terms with her unplanned pregnancy and find her confidence in a system that seems destined to break her down and spit her out. But not everyone is on board when she makes decisions that are considered less than mainstream: certainly not her obstetrician, or her best friend Hannah who is coming to terms with her own deeply buried pain, and not even the ever-supportive Dylan, who struggles to accept Amy’s decisions.
Adelaide-based author Kim Lock has written a novel that somehow does that most difficult thing – talk about pregnancy, childbirth and women’s choices without sounding preachy. Until now I thought that an impossible task. These aspects of womanhood are so deeply personal, and each woman’s experience of them so individual, that there is always a danger of sounding evangelical whenever you spout an opinion – whether you spout it like a gentle stream or a crashing waterfall, and whether that opinion is mainstream or not. But because Lock’s reader is taken along for the ride on Amy’s journey and is in her head every step of the way as she struggles to do what’s right for her, it’s possible to embrace Amy’s story and feel her eventual empowerment with her.
Lock writes with considerable humour and wit. She has an excellent ear for laconic speech and it is refreshing to witness her nail a wonderfully Australian tone. Her portrayal of life as a Darwin-based Army ‘wife’ is eye opening and interesting. She is brave in her tackling of the sticky and icky aspects of pregnancy as well as the emotional turmoil. But more fundamentally, her ability to capture and portray the experience of pregnancy and childbirth in all its complications, fascination and bizarre life-changing strangeness is admirable. It’s not always that these subjects are tackled with such humour, raw honesty and emotion.
Who would I recommend this to? Pretty much any women who has ever been pregnant or considered pregnancy – especially if they are unconvinced or sceptical about all the messages we are fed through mainstream media about what women ‘should’ do or be or feel.
Buy Peace, Love and Khaki Socks or watch the book trailer here.