STEPPING BACK was published at the same time as EYEING EVEREST. It's a romance set largely in a Red Cross Hospital south of Phnom Penh. In 1996 it was judged a Notable Book in the CBCA Book Awards.
Somaly is a sixteen year old part-Cambodian girl who has lived with her mother on the remote west coast of Tasmania since she was a toddler. Somaly's mother was a nurse in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia when she gave birth to Somaly. Shortly after that, Somaly's father was killed by a land mine and Somaly and her mum left the country for Tasmania.
Juxtaposed with Somaly's life in Tasmania is the life of Keo, a traumatised Cambodian who lost an arm and his girlfriend in a Khmer Rouge ambush, and who now works as a hospital orderly on the Thai border. About the time Keo is informed that he'll finally be allowed to return to Cambodia, Somaly's mother in Tasmania finds out she has MS. If she's ever to return to the country she has ached over for years, she must do it soon. So Keo from the Thai border, and Somaly and her mother from Tasmania step back into a war-ravaged country filled with stoical, quietly-spoken people who, despite the legacy of Khmer Rouge rule, genocide, an estimated one million buried mines and extreme poverty, are still to this day strongly imbued with Buddhist warmth, graciousness and compassion.
OUT OF PRINT