Planet Books


Small Wrongs by Kate Rossmanith


The court sentencing process is difficult to understand. Kate Rossmanith taps into exactly why this is: it boils down to the question of remorse. What do we want truly want when an offender is sentenced? What do we truly want when we fight with those we love? We want to know they are sorry, that they are truly remorseful of their actions. While this may seem like an academic read, it's really an exploration of self and societal expectations.    

Rossmanith starts in the courtroom with the case of a woman who used a car to murder a man. She writes about the rituals of court, the imposing architecture of the court building, the dress and language of the members of the court and the conduct of the accused. It really is an extraordinary perspective of the court process. She spoke to lawyers, forensic physicians, prison chaplains, offenders, victims, caseworkers, judges, parole panels and yet instead of producing a dry dissertation she wrote this amazingly accessibly book.

Rossmanith took all her research, the experience she gleaned from speaking with these people and laid it against her own life. She ties it to her own understanding of relationships and what she (or we) truly want from others. We want remorse. We want to know our suffering is understood and the person/s who caused that suffering are truly sorry.

In all honesty, I feel this beautifully written book should be on some sort of required reading list to help ordinary Australians understand the court process and in turn help them understand the outcome.  I, for one, will be rereading this book for years to come.


Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.