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He’s in a new home, turning his bag upside down, emptying the contents onto the rug in the middle of the room. It was there, he knows he packed it, the framed picture of his mum, he saw it inside his bag in the social worker’s car. 


In the picture, she sits. In her rocking chair, their chair, a small pillow tucked behind her, jutting out behind her elbow. Little Cat is on the shelf behind the chair, a row of his books, the window slightly open. Sun pouring through, the photo slightly overexposed.

Faith and Evelyn are close friends, neighbours, and single mothers of Luke and of Mitch – and both bear the scars of the trauma of colonisation and the Stolen Generations. When Faith dies unexpectedly, Luke’s childhood in Sydney is severed into a ‘before’ and ‘after’ and a chain of catastrophic events is unleashed that will alter the course of his life.

Navigating the upheaval of a broken foster system (that serves as a pipeline to poverty and incarceration in ‘juvie’), The Leaves is a bittersweet meditation on motherhood and loss, on the power of female friendship, and the role of the state in perpetuating violence. 

Luke’s journey exposes the aftermath of colonisation, as the nature of punishment, historical trauma and healing are examined. In doing so, the novel reveals the cruelty and futility of the youth detention system, and the violence of the law itself.


Through the pursuit of unattainable justice for Luke, The Leaves raises larger questions about a society that is yet to take responsibility for its own historical crimes.

About The Author

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Dr Jacqueline Rule is an Australian author who holds a PhD in English from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English from Goldsmiths College, University of London (International Programme) and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is the winner of the University of London’s 150th Anniversary Prize for academic achievement in English Literature.


Born in South Africa, Jacqueline has lived in Sydney for many years. She is admitted as a solicitor by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. 


Jacqueline has worked in research (focusing on law and literature) and academic governance at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), as an academic tutor teaching literature at the University of Sydney and as a fiction reader for literary journals. Her PhD thesis focused on the intersections between literature and law, narrative ethics and interpretative practices and the representation of historical trauma through the form of the novel.


In addition, Jacqueline spent several years working in a legal organisation, supporting a specialist committee on youth detention in the criminal justice system.

The Leaves is her debut novel.

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