Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion by Robert Tickner

Reviewed by
April 2020, no. 420
Josh Black reviews 'Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion' by Robert Tickner

Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion

by Robert Tickner

Scribe, $32.99 pb, 256 pp

Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion by Robert Tickner

Reviewed by
April 2020, no. 420

Twenty years ago, Robert Tickner tried his hand at the nuanced art of political memoir. Taking a Stand (2001) was, he said, ‘an insider’s account of momentous initiatives’ in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs portfolio in the 1990s. A portrait of the politician as a young man, son, father, and husband was not in the offing. Cabinet diarist Neal Blewett, a man not renowned for political flamboyance, described Tickner’s narrative as ‘remorselessly impersonal’. Privately, it seems, Tickner also protested that ‘the public me is not the real me!’

Now, in Ten Doors Down, Tickner peels back the ministerial veil to reveal that his years in public life coincided with a remarkable journey of self-discovery, and that often ‘the personal overlapped with the political’. The authorial dedication testifies to the scale of that journey; it celebrates two adoptive parents, two birth parents, two step-parents, and two children. Of these relations, it is Maida, Tickner’s birth mother, who very nearly monopolises the reader’s attention. This highly personal political memoir tells a heart-wrenching story of genealogical discovery and relationship formation. It is propelled by two powerful questions: ‘What was her story? Was I made in her image?’

Josh Black reviews 'Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion' by Robert Tickner

Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion

by Robert Tickner

Scribe, $32.99 pb, 256 pp

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