The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein

I doubt many people have given thought to who cleans up a murder scene, or who helps hoarders clear out years of debris. Sandra Pankhurst, that’s who. The reader follows along with just some of the many jobs that Sandra’s profession entails while also learning the past of this amazing woman. Born a boy, adopted into a tumultuous and violent family, married young with two young boys, having gender reassignment and working as a drag queen, sex worker, funeral director, Sandra’s journey is one that needs to be read to be believed.

I absolutely flew through this fascinating and unique read. This biography, or more accurately, an ode to the amazing Sandra Pankhurst tells us about all she has suffered and all she has achieved. I loved this book for three reasons. Firstly, as I have mentioned the reader lives the harrowing and the colourful ups and downs of Sandra’s life. It seems that Sandra has lived enough for three lives and has faced some horrific experiences that it is amazing that she still lives with compassion and positivity – what an absolute legend. Second is the fascinating insight into the life of a trauma cleaner. As an outsider you would assume that cleaning up after deaths would be the worst to deal with but honestly what stops you in your tracks are the hoarders. It is heart-breaking to see how society has forgotten these people, how they have hidden themselves away to rot in their own filth. These situations are so sad and really hit home as you immerse yourself in their stories along with Krasnostein. Lastly, Krasnostein’s amazing writing is what takes this book to the next level. Her clear passion and respect for Sandra, her blatant honesty throughout the pages. I was mesmerised and impressed beyond reason.

Just beware that there are some gruesome descriptions of hoarding life for those who are a little weak-stomached and I would perhaps recommend not eating while pursuing this one. Not to mention some pretty horrific themes of abuse throughout Sandra’s life but please don’t let this scare you away. This is a special read that will stay with you long after the pages and is well worth your time picking up. I know I’m excited beyond measure for Writer’s Week to be able to watching Krasnostein herself talk about this unique book.

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