A few weeks ago I received a book titled Burnt Face by Annette Swann. The cover shows the badly burned face of a young girl and the story it tells is that of Annette and her incredible spirit!
It is a story of courage and heartbreak and resilience, which has a wonderfully happy ending!
Growing up in a Western suburbs household consisting of several generations, Annette had never had her own bedroom until she moved with her parents into a commission house in the Broadmeadows area and we share in her delight at suddenly having her own privacy!
Life was great….but at the age of 9 she attended her mother’s work BBQ, and in an act of incredible stupidity, a man threw methylated spirits on the fire, there was an explosion and Annette was very severely burnt on her face and body.
After months of hospitalisation, she returned home and, despite the problems she was enduring, her very strong mother insisted she return to school and try and resume as normal a life as possible. Of course, there were the inevitable cruel reactions from some of the kids, but she found a small group of staunch friends, accepted that she was “different” and learned to almost ignore the jibes and stares.
As she reached teenage years she also learned to accept that she was not going to be the girl who got invitations from the boys they hung around with… Remember, these were “Broadie” kids and some of them were pretty tough, as she points out.
Annette writes vividly and often amusingly about those days and her mother and father encouraged her to live as normal a life a possible, although there were spells in and out of hospital for painful treatments along the way.
However, the tide turned for her when one of the boys she found most attractive, Mark, paid her attention at a party and invited her on a date!
Frustratingly, as I told her, she leaves us dangling there… but not before telling us that she moved to Mackay with a 3-year old child and her parents and met there the love of her life, who is now her husband and father of their three children!
I reproached her for this, she laughed and promised me a copy of her next book .. which continues the story!
Annette was a delight to interview and has achieved a highly successful career as well as a happy and fulfilling life.
Despite its tragedy, this is a “feel good” book and I do recommend it for holiday reading.