Book review: Plot Twist, Jana Firestone

A self-help guide to surviving life’s curveballs.
Plot Twist. Jana Firestone. Image is on the left a young woman with shoulder length fair wavy hair parted in the middle and a leopard print top. She has one hand on her hip. On the right is a purple book cover with a looped pink arrow crossing the front over the title.

At times we are ankle deep in the sea of life, and at others, when things are at their worse, up to our necks – adrift. No matter how well we plan and try to stick to the script, there is always a plot twist. This is how Jana Firestone describes those events that pull the metaphorical rugs from beneath our feet. After reading Plot Twist, one thing is certain, change is constant and we can take solace in knowing that, for all of us, the best laid life plans will inevitably take a turn.

Plot Twist is a personal guide to surviving life’s unexpected curveballs. Firestone is a therapist and podcaster who, throughout her career and life experience, has witnessed various examples of people’s outpouring of grief, loss and pain. She’s also observed how they recover through resilience, transformation and hope.

This is what makes this book so accessible – the fact that Firestone uses her own life experiences as examples of how plot twists can impact you. Through the lens of a trained therapist she has identified useful and practical tools to help those suffering pivot and continue to move forward. The life experience examples used are universal, such as losing a parent, becoming a parent and relationship break-ups – and all the other messy stuff in between.

What is particularly useful is the list of ‘Things to Consider’ at the end of each chapter. And they include advice such as: ‘Break the habit of living in fast forward or rewind. When you calm and quieten your mind, you reduce stress, anxiety and the challenges you face as a result of a plot twist.’

Such prompts would be helpful when experiencing loss, but even if you are not facing any curveballs, certain advice that Firestone suggests can be applied to the everyday, like the benefits of sitting with yourself and being aware of how you are feeling, embracing and acknowledging change and, most importantly, treating yourself with empathy and kindness, and knowing you have control of your next phase of life.

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If you are seeking advice about a number of heartfelt issues, this is a great place to start. If you have a friend or family member who needs some guidance, the ‘Things to Consider’ after each chapter could help you understand what they may be experiencing and provide some solutions to help ease their pain. If this is not possible, there are some very useful resources at the back of the book to find professional support.

Plot Twist, Jana Firestone
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781761470448
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256pp
Publication date: 3 April 2024
RRP: 32.99

Barrina is a Barkindji writer, artist, critic and curator living on the unceded lands of the Ngunnawal & Ngambri. In addition to her role with the Amplify Collective, she is the Arts Reviewer for the Canberra City News. Alongside her creative endeavors, Barrina has a long-standing career in the museum and heritage sector both at a state and federal level.