Linda Reviews: Specimen: personal essays by Madison Hamill

Published: 14-Jun-2021

Book Review – Specimen: personal essays by Madison Hamill

Specimen by Madison Hamill

Sometimes writing a review can never do a book justice. This is one of those books.

It’s no surprise that Madison Hamill’s book ‘Specimen’ took out this year’s prize for best ‘general non-fiction’ at the New Zealand Ockham book awards.

The cover and the blurb initially appealed to me. The cover depicts a modestly dressed woman floating dreamlike in a specimen jar while gripping onto what could be an umbilical cord. The blurb outlines some of the stories that lie within: “A father rollerblading into church in his ministerial robes; a trespass order from Pak ‘nSave; a beautiful unborn goat in a jar”.

I borrowed the book from the library and absorbed myself reading this collection of personal anecdotes. I was not disappointed.

Madison studies specimens of her younger self in an honest, often humorous and unpretentious way. She draws the reader in to view these memories along with her. She questions how her life connects to those around her, and wonders at times if she is normal. An engaging read with a balance of emotions throughout. There are parts of her stories that I’m sure we can all identify with.

An award winning, first published book, from a talented new New Zealand author.