Grace is a book of deep understanding
THREE great loves of her life - people with special needs, surf lifesaving and the Central Coast - are the inspiration behind author Mei-Ling Venning's new book, Grace.
To be launched at Toowoon Bay Surf Lifesaving Club at 10am on Saturday, September 28, Grace is the story of a girl growing up with a mother who has Down syndrome and a father with an acquired learning disability.
Taunted and bullied at school, she finds new confidence and hope when she joins her local surf lifesaving club.
The novel raises questions around friendship, family, bullying, attitudes to people with disabilities, and highlights the benefits of the surf lifesaving movement.
"You write about things you are passionate about," Mei-Ling said.
As a former special needs teacher, she said she understood the pressures on children with learning disabilities and how nasty other children could sometimes be.
A surf lifesaving masters gold medallist, who embraced the sport after her move from England in 2005, Mei-Ling also strongly believes in the positive impact the surf lifesaving community can have.
She is involved in the Toowoon Bay special needs Nippers program, the Stingrays, and has made surf lifesaving the turning point in Grace's life.
"I think it is very important because it brings together a group of people with a common purpose, who want to do something positive for the community and that does lead to close friendships and camaraderie," she said.
Grace is Mei-Ling's second book, but the first she has given an official christening.
"I let Pelican Bay slip into the world unannounced, but I have spent another two years of my life writing Grace," Mei-Ling said.
Grace stands on its own but can also be read as a sequel to Pelican Bay, in which her heroine with Down syndrome, Michelle, fights for independence and love.
The book will be available through the Toowoon Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, which will benefit from its sale, as well as online and at Book Face Erina and Book Bazaar Umina Beach.
Mei-Ling hopes to see as many people as possible at the launch, and can be contacted by email on email@example.com.