Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Mimosa Tree

The Mimosa Tree by Antonella Preto (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9-781-922-089-199
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

Set in suburban Australia, it's the summer of 1987 and Mira is beginning her first year at uni. No more school. No more unnatural politeness. No more apologising for being different. She's got a radical new haircut, and an all black wardrobe - she should be having the time of her life.

But it's hard to get excited about anything when you're being smothered by a crazy Italian family, enrolled in a course you're not interested in, and waiting to see if it's America or Russia that drops the first bomb.

Even a new best friend and the magnetic boy with the eyeliner can't rid Mira of the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. And she's right. Her world is about to explode, but it's not the skies she should be checking.

From the onset of this novel you enjoy and appreciate Preto’s beautifully formed and well written prose. I struggled initially with the characters and the setting as it’s an era I can remember only too well and the last thing I want is to dwell on my own teenage years, but it didn’t take me long to become absorbed and swept along by the storyline. It was totally engrossing.

Preto’s characters are interesting and engaging and quirky. Some I absolutely loved, and others I simply detested. At times I found the story very funny, the banter between Mira’s mother and her Aunt Via could be hilarious and yet poignant at other times.

While going through her own growing pains, poor Mira has to deal with the loss of her mother and it’s painful for all involved, including the reader. Preto too lost her own mother at 17 years of age and she handles this situation with care and sensitivity.

If you love Italian food, the sensory descriptions are delectable.

This is Antonella Preto’s first novel and I highly recommend it for Young Adults readers.

Neridah McMullin is the author of three books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to Me!' It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy!)

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