Karen Laura-Lee Wilson: Gaining a Sense of Self

Hell and back

Rachel Robertson


Gaining a Sense of Self
by Karen Laura-Lee Wilson
Sid Harta Publishers, $24.95 pb, 464 pp, 9781921642920


Gaining a Sense of Self is the record of Wilson’s first twenty-five years, a story that obviously took great courage to revisit, recreate, and publish. Born in 1942 to a couple whose marriage was already disintegrating, Wilson had a childhood of poverty, hunger, and abuse. Her father, initially absent because of his work in the navy, left the family when Wilson was six years old, and she rarely saw him after this. It was from her mother that Wilson suffered physical and psychological abuse. This appears to have started when Wilson was very young: she describes being battered by her mother when she accidentally broke a doll at the age of two.

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Published in May 2011, no. 331
Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson is a West Australian writer and lecturer in professional writing at Curtin University. She was the joint winner (with Mark Tredinnick) of the 2008 Australian Book Review Calibre Prize for Outstanding Essay. Rachel’s essays and short fiction have been published in anthologies and journals such as Griffith Review, Island, Life Writing, Westerly, and Best Australian Essays 2008. She is the author of Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism (2012) and co-editor of Purple Prose (2015).

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