I thought this book was going to be fiction, when my sister described it, but no: Louisa Deasey is a freelance journalist who one night fell in love with a comedian, Jim, whose humour had seen him blacklisted by most big-city venues. The disdain was mutual, though, because Jim’s great gift lies in his understanding and acceptance of the battered souls on the outermost fringes of Australian society: desert bikies, toothless miners, sex-workers, and the heartbroken Indigenous peoples dispossessed by these desperadoes and the big businesses they work for. Beloved by the hardest of men, he tours the great Australian landscape, hundreds of kilometres a day, in a packed Mazda. It’s a brutal side of our country that most of us never see, violently segregated by race and gender, and Deasey, in the passenger seat, records all of it – the fights, alcoholism, and vast beauty – with a journalist’s dispassionate eye. She is in love with Jim, and for the most part, that’s all that matters; her great gift lies in her willingness to strip her life down to its barest bones, to emulate Jim’s utter lack of preconceptions, and to absorb every lesson the wild landscape and their even wilder ride through it have to teach her, about who she is and what she really needs for happiness. It’s an especially poignant read now, when BLM and Climate Action protests demand each of us ask ourselves that very question, and so many are too scared to do so.