Thursday, 11 August 2011

All I ever wanted

Just when you think you've read all the best teenage novels you can find, along comes Vikki Wakefield with her first novel, 'All I ever wanted.'

Vikki is an Adelaide writer. Her personal philosophy of reading is 'if she can't read, she can't breathe.' Hear, hear!

Vikki's novel is set in the impoverished outer suburbs of an Australian city. It is a scorching hot summer and you can practically feel the parched surrounds, so vivid are her descriptions.

The main protaganist in the story is soon-to-be-17 Jemima (or Mim as she is known.) She is determined to leave her street and her circumstances behind her. These include two older brothers who are on remand, her poverty-stricken neighbours and her seemingly no-good mother.

To this end, she has a set of rules with which she must comply so as not to end up in Tudor Crescent all her life. These include finishing school, no drugs, no alcohol, no tattoos and no swearing.

Vikki's observations of people and landscape are truly magnificent.

For instance, Mim describes a man she knows as having 'a face like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces have been pushed together to make them fit.'

Mim sees the boy she has a crush on and says her heart has 'blown up like a puffer fish.'

She lives in Tudor Crescent (not a Tudor or a crescent in sight).

We enter the orb of Mim's family and friends, sharply defined characters who feel real and authentic.

The novel begins with Mim picking up a dubious package from Feeney Tucker (the aforementioned character with a face like a jigsaw puzzle). But before she can take the package home, the love of her life steals it from her. It is a cruel world.

But Mim can be mistaken about the people who surround her and their motivations, and we find as the novel unfolds that things and people are not always as they seem.

I hope that Vikki receives all the recognition and accolades she deserves for this wonderful book.



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