The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein presents as anything but a queer story. At a glance, the life of Sandra Pankhurst offers fascinating insight into some of the most damaged and also, vulnerable in our society through a unique and intriguing lens.
Sandra works cleaning, fixing, repairing and salvaging — a trauma cleaner. Jobs range from murder scenes to meth labs. There are also hoarders in houses literally falling apart. But Sandra diligently picks through the detritus. Whether cleaning up the mess of a life no longer there or guiding a shattered and damaged soul to pick up the pieces of their personal chaos, she’s there.
Beneath the grit is a unique and captivating woman with a dark, damaged and unshakably uplifting story. In this beautiful, frank and honest account, Sarah Krosnostein unpacks the life that was Sandra Pankhurst, a strong, direct and sharply-spoken woman, but also possessed of remarkable kindness and generosity of spirit.
Sandra began life as a young boy adopted by people who should never have been entrusted with a child’s care. She suffered heart-wrenching abuse and neglect.
Throughout the story, the author contrasts the past trauma of her experiences with the current trauma of her clients. Sandra picks through the remnants of their lives, restoring order and structure just as she so often did for herself.
As a young adult, Sandra married and fathered two children without finding the comfort and safety she sought. Sneaking out to gay bars led to a realisation of her own sexuality and identity, opening a door to the next stage in her life.
From one beautiful, breathtaking and emotionally charged moment to the next we follow Sandra from teenager to husband, prostitute to wife, small business owner to divorcee. Each moment, each story, woven together amongst the backdrop of her current existence.
Sarah Krasnostein painstakingly pieces together memories and stories of an extraordinary woman across five decades.
This is a not-to-be-missed, unputdownable story. We are all richer for the chance to peek inside the life of this extraordinary woman.