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"The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots": Review

Updated on February 1, 2012

The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots

I've just finished one of the easiest and funnest books I've read in a while!

"The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots" by Loretta Hill is set in the 'red dirt' Pilbara region in the northern parts of Western Australia.

The main character, Lena Todd, is a city-based graduate structural engineer who gets thrown into the deep end (professionally and emotionally) as one of only a handful of females on a construction site.

Loretta Hill is an engineer herself and has experienced similar working conditions in her career. Accordingly, this wonderful fictional debut has the stamp of credibility and succeeds in illustrating the characters, issues, emotions and consequences of working a fly-in, fly-out roster in a remote location.

Real Life Concepts Explored In This Book

Us vs Them between Client and Contractor - this happens more often than not and is something that needs to be managed. The sense or idea of the Contractor being screwed is not just employer based but also location based (for example between is a design team based in the capital city and a site team at the project construction site) or even between Contractor and Sub-contractor.

Men vs Women - some of the events described in this book border on sexual harrassment with most employers these days taking workplace bullying seriously. This book explores some of the unfair attitudes toward women in a male oriented profession and unfortunately some of the situations are quite real. A plausible consequence of having a relationship with someone from work is explored, especially when it takes place in an environment where everybody is in each others faces for weeks on end such that privacy is very limited.

Construction nick-names! You'll always meet at least one person on site who is known by a nickname which could be based on thier last name, a physical attribute (eg missing a finger), a name based on position, a rumor or the persons personality. In the book Radar always manages to pick up snippets of gossip around site and Fish is obsessed with fishing.

Workplace Safety. The seriousness of safety on a construction site is emphasized through Dan Hullog's story (without giving too much away) and the strict policing of wearing PPE (personal protective equipment, such as steel-capped boots) while on site.

Work Rosters - Ten years ago work rotations 5 weeks on, 1 week off were common. Nowadays the rosters for construction sites are perhaps only marginally more forgiving, but it various depending on the project, work location and the labor skills shortage.

Swearing on a Construction Site - it's true. You learn many more colorful words when working "in the field". Lena's boss, Carl, is described as using the f-word as a noun, adjective and verb!

Who Should Read "The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots"?

This book is recommended reading for:

  • All Project Engineers who have worked in the Pilbara (and will appreciate the authenticity of the events, characters and experiences described in this book).
  • Female engineers in particular will identify perfectly with Lena Todd.
  • People looking for a glimpse into typical life on a construction site - while this book is a work of fiction, the backdrop is fairly real.
  • Lovers of forbidden romance!
  • Anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a book with a coffee in public while trying to muffle laugh out loud moments so anyone nearby doesn't think he/she is a weirdo!!
  • Movie directors - this book would make an awesome Australian movie.


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    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I hope I can read this book as well. Nice review and thanks for share with us. Good job and rated up!