Book review: Untold Resilience

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Stories of wars, financial crisis and pandemics are most often told from the male viewpoint; Untold Resilience (Penguin Random House) is a collection of stories that celebrates the lives of 19 incredible women from diverse: backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities. It also shines a light on the resilience, courage and hope with which they navigated the ups and down of life in a world not designed for them.



Untold Resilience is edited by Future Women’s Helen McCabe and Jamila Rizvi. The stories are based on interviews conducted by Australia female journalists whilst the country was in lockdown. For many of the women interviewed, Covid-19 is not the first major disease outbreak they have lived through, having dealt with influenza and tuberculosis, either personally or as nurses. These stories serve as a brilliant reminder for 2020 that this too shall pass.


We chatted with Helen McCabe about the importance of Untold Resilience.


What is the purpose of Untold Resilience?


To help us learn from others how to overcome adversity and to offer hope to people who might be overwhelmed right now.

Do each of you have a personal favourite or something that really resonated with you the most?


We feel strongly about all of them especially the women we met. I adored Dorothea Hobson who is such a beautiful person and I think that comes through.

Do we know any of these women in the media or are these everyday women?


They are everyday women. They are the women in every street, in suburb and town in this country. They are your grandma or nan. I bet if you asked your grandmother about her life…. You’d be surprised!


That said, Catherine McGregor is a high profile transgender woman who was also a contender for Australian of the Year. There was a play written about her life, so she is the exception. I think she writes one of the most compelling chapters about addiction, faith and demons.

Would you say the book is being released in an especially important period of time (Covid-19)?


Absolutely, but honestly we thought when we started it might be well and truly over. Little did we know...

Other notes:


Every chapter or story resonates differently to readers. There is such wisdom from these women. But it should be issued with a warning, because you will need a giant box of tissues. Some people have actually started to cry at the dedication! Another said her husband had to ration it as she was crying too much. But they are worth it – this book is ultimately uplifting. Life is a big ride but you can always triumph over adversity and all of these stories illustrate just that.