Title: Car Crash a memoir
Author: Lech Blaine
Publisher: Black Inc., Carlton VIC
Publication date: 2021
Reviewer: Peta Browne
“Grief was a daily exercise in failing to say the right things, then feeling those emotions only when everyone else had stopped paying attention – so not having anyone to show them to, or freaking people out when you did.”
On the outskirts of Toowoomba in 2009 seventeen-year-old Lech Blaine was the front seat passenger in a car with six friends, when the driver lost control.
While Lech escaped largely unharmed, the crash would leave three dead and two in comas.
The internal and external pressure to be stoic and ‘manly’, along with the guilt and shame of surviving physically unscathed, sent Lech into alcohol use and depression.
Along the way he was also dealing with family issues, the transition from childhood to adulthood, and the pressure to decide who he wanted to be.
But his denial of emotion and his reluctance to deal with the situation eventually caught up to him.
Lech’s story is also a nod to the benefits he found in seeking professional help and the healing and enlightenment it enabled.
Car Crash a memoir is a sobering look at the short and long-term consequences of car accidents, the rumours and reactions from media and armchair experts, and the expectations around grief, especially for young men and in the age of social media.
I found it a very interesting read, vividly articulated, and a good reminder that the aftermath of accidents doesn’t stop when the news stories do.
Other stories: Book Review: Freaks of the Heartland