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OUT OF THE FOREST The true story of a recluse…

Gregory P. Smith OUT OF THE FOREST

The true story of a recluse…

Review by Ian Browne Shamrock News

"I had spent the best part of a half a century wandering the world alone. I had always felt like a misfit, a freak, a loser, a sinner and, worst of all, that no one on earth could possibly understand me."

This book is rich in life’s journey! Covered are all facets of the human emotion, the human spirit. Well written; ideally paced dialogue, it is brilliant! From drugged-drunk forest ogre to an academic leader of the social sciences, this is one review where saying too much will only spoil.

If you have one of those moments when you wonder why life has thrown so much misery your way, perhaps take a minute to reflect on the mind-boggling hardships this man and his sisters had to endure. Beaten, abused, neglected, Gregory Peel Smith shares the torments of early life, while also describing the triumphs that led to him running from anything delivered slightly polished by a toothy society, one ready to pounce at any moment, gnawing one’s self-esteem to the bone. Growing up in Tamworth and later in life travelling the open road to places as far afield as tropical Queensland, Gregory describes the people who befriend him, and those he salutes for showing him worth, while not judging. He wasn’t always kind to others himself; he announces this earnestly. But when I view the picture taken of Gregory and his sisters when they are little more than toddlers, to think that a man, anyone, could harm such innocence, is hard for me. Especially in the final stages of this exciting self-portrait, it is challenging to hold back the tears while sitting with a coffee in public.

What makes a man turn his back on society?

What makes him return?

I gained so much wealth while reading this story, especially from the beautifully enriching relationships this intelligent man gains, and those colourfully daunting rainforest chapters. I too know some of the secrets that lie within the dappled light of that mountain forest myself. Such an engaging part of the world.

Sad is the deep regret the years stole from Gregory’s time with his sisters, and much-loved daughter Katie. There are moments where you feel like whispering some advice to Gregory while he trudges the lonely laneways of this reality, in shoes two sizes too small. But in the end, it is he who enlightens and shuffles the ark-covenant of wisdom under your nose.

Less so now, the forgotten Australians…

Everyone needs to spend time with this book – it will help one make sense of many aspects of life − and elucidate how one’s ripple effect can prove positive - or disastrous - to the lives of others.

I am guessing most politicians in this country have just missed the point. Understanding how abuse and neglect to the young in care ‘does’ lead to self-degrading behaviours later in life, requires more efficient support in government funding. I hope they take heed.

Professor Beardy

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