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The day that turns a life upside down usually starts like any other, but what happens the day after? Dual Walkley Award-winner Leigh Sales investigates how ordinary people endure the unthinkable.

As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next?

In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows.

Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.

Formats & editions

  • Audio Download


    October 1, 2018

    Penguin Random House Australia Audio

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Audible AU
    • Google Play Audio AU
  • Trade Paperback


    October 1, 2018

    Hamish Hamilton

    272 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 1, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo


Staring at the Sun

The day that turns a life upside down usually starts like any other. You open your eyes, swing your body out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed and leave the house, your mind busy. As you close the front door behind you, rarely is there a tingle of unease that something is off. Later, when the story of what happened next comes to be told, it will start with the day’s deceptive ordinariness, something that will now seem incredible. How could a blindside so momentous have struck on a day that began so unremarkably?

In late 2014, the news media was dominated by two such days, so unimaginable in their endings that they rattled even those of us far removed from the events. On the afternoon of November 25, a sparkling spring day, a young cricketer, Phillip Hughes, was fatally struck by a ball during a game. And on December 15, at morning tea time in a Sydney café, a gunman took eighteen people hostage, two of them – Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson – killed by the siege’s end.

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Leigh Sales Q&A

Rapid-fire questions for the award-winning Australian journalist and author.

Book Clubs
Any Ordinary Day Book Club Notes

Investigating how ordinary people endure the unthinkable, Leigh Sales’ latest work will spark conversation at your next book club.

Awards and Recognition

  • Indie Book Awards
    Indie Book Awards