Chasing Rainbows: The Stolen Future of Caroline Ann Stuttle (Pegasus, 2021)
By Richard Stuttle
“What continues to destroy me more than anything else is that she had the potential to achieve whatever she wanted in life. I truly thought we would have had a lifetime together.” – Richard Stuttle
An early morning phone call on April 10, 2002 crushed that assumption and changed Richard Stuttle’s life forever.
His younger sister, Caroline, age 19, had been “on the adventure of a lifetime,” backpacking around Australia with a friend. But on that terrible April evening, Caroline was thrown off a Bundaberg bridge and fell to her death.
Chasing Rainbows: The Stolen Future of Caroline Ann Stuttle is the raw, unfiltered story of Caroline’s life, the devastating impact of her murder, and how a “charity born out of tragedy”came to life to help young backpackers travel in a safer environment.
Told by Caroline’s brother, Richard, Chasing Rainbows is searingly honest. The author pulls no punches. Intensely frank, the narrative is both shattering and overwhelming. It’s an emotional tsunami that will leave readers gasping for breath as they join the author on a turbulent journey through shock, despair, anger, loss, an arrest, trial, a guilty verdict, and beyond.
But the story – and Caroline’s legacy – don’t stop there. They continue to this day, propelled by courage, compassion, and hope.
A Deep Dive
Touching and heartfelt, Chasing Rainbows is a deep dive into grief and the stages of bereavement, ably chronicled in painstaking detail like brush strokes on a canvas. In 2003, in fact, the author flew to Australia and spent two years backpacking around the country, representing his family during the murder trial and following in his sister’s footsteps. He also discusses his experience dealing with long-term grief.
Told with great sagacity and sensitivity, the writing is solid, powerful, and poignant.
You’ll also be introduced to Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation. The charity was formed after Caroline’s death in 2002. Its mission is two-fold: 1) To keep young travelers safe when travelling; and 2) To support families who have lost loved ones in travel-related incidents.
While thoroughly engaging, the text could benefit from another proofread. For example, most of page 70 is repeated on page 75. Paragraphing is inconsistent and the narrative is sometimes hampered by uneven pacing. While numerous photos are included, a lack of captions leaves readers guessing at content and context. However, none of these are major issues and do not detract from the overall story.
So if you or someone you love has/have travel plans, Chasing Rainbows is a must-have. It’s not only a moving tribute to a beloved sister, it’s also a wealth of information and inspiration for safe travel. Don’t leave home without reading it!
Find out more about Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation here and:
Reviewer’s note: This book was a challenge. Astonishing, unnerving, and profoundly moving, the narrative also radiates a sense of hope, grace, and grit that’s almost luminescent. I re-wrote the review several times and struggled with an appropriate headline.
It’s hard to do Chasing Rainbows justice. The combination of biography/memoir/true crime/self-help/travel is an unusual one. So you’ll have to read the book yourself. Now would be good.
Rainbow on bridge image credit: Public domain.