At age 16, author Melissa Baker slept under the Sydney Harbour Bridge after being sexually abused as a child. In the '80s, Human Rights Australia states there were over 3,500 homeless youth in Sydney. Today, whilst abuse has lessened, homelessness is 8 times worse. David Vernon from Stringybark Publishing writes: “Do we have decent safety nets in place to protect our young people now? As I read the ABC news, I don’t see that Mel Baker’s 1980s have gone forever. The past is still with us. Young, neglected people are still hurting. Our homeless problem in Australia is still appalling. Between 2006 and 2016 the homeless rate increased from 45 to over 50 per 10,000 people, at the same time that Australia’s GDP and national wealth have continued to grow. Such economic and social disparity does Australia’s governments no credit, nor those who never have to confront these issues. Mel Baker’s book forces us to look at ourselves and wonder are we part of the problem or part of the solution?”
Sleeping Under the Bridge, published in the USA by Atmosphere Press, is the first book in a trilogy series. This gripping brave story speaks into adults from all walks of life from children that have gone through sexual, physical and emotional abuse and how that affected their internal rhythm. Being trapped in an underworld of shame, Mel experienced more than she bargained for on the streets, including witnessing murders, horrific crimes, cover ups and took a few hits of her own. The other two books continue Mel’s triumphant over despair as she worked in conflict zones overseas, being shot at and nearly kidnapped on the Congo-Zambia border, working with police in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, including Northern Ireland, and then more recently went through trauma and abuse when serving in the Royal Australian Navy. This trilogy of Mel’s lived experiences reflects her life’s purpose, “I’ve had more than 9 lives. I’m alive for a reason, to support and inspire others that there is always hope no matter what life throws at us.”
David went on in his review, “This book confronts us on a personal level, it requires us to wonder if anything has changed? It is a book about hope and how the human spirit holds onto life and deep down knows that with love and compassion, a life worth living can be found. This book is a powerful read.”
Dr Rick Williams review of Sleeping Under the Bridge focuses more on the serious problem Australia faces on early abuse and domestic violence, “With the telling of her story, Mel deserves recognition as one of Australia’s great and courageous citizens. Her story is a lesson to us all. When good people do nothing against those who do bad, we are in an uncivil society. Mel’s story should not be put aside and forgotten. It should be read by everyone and discussed by everyone. This story could be the springboard for putting an end to the outrages perpetrated against the vulnerable people in our society.”
The first book launch will be held at the Pylon Lookout on Sunday 7 August, above where 16 year old Mel laid her head at night. The launch will be raising money for the homeless through the charity StreetHeart. Tickets and details are available on Eventbrite.
Atmosphere Press is an independent, full-service publisher for excellent books in all genres and for all audiences. Founded in 2015 by Nick Courtright. We stand for honesty, transparency, professionalism, kindness and making the author's book awesome.
Dr Mel Baker