Review Blog

Jun 22 2011

All I Ever Wanted by Vicki Wakefield

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Text Publishing House, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-921758-30-0.
(Age 12+) Highly recommended. 'Happy pills. At best you're a dancing queen with a direct line to God: at worst you can fry your brain.' Such an opening line not only got my attention but also had a message in it. I excitedly read on and was not disappointed. This debut young adult novel by Adelaide writer Vikki Wakefield was truly outstanding.
16 year old Mim lives in a low socio-economic area and describes it as 'the last street in a forgotten suburb, an hour from the city.' At one stage she feels like running home but walks as 'in our street everybody knows everybody's business.' The whole story revolves around the theme that things are not always as they seem, and Mim eventually realizes that her family and neighbourhood are actually a positive rather than a negative.
Mim has etched her 'rules' on the steps of the old train signal box. These include: 'I will finish school. I will not take drugs. I will not have sex until I'm over 18. I will trust only myself. One day I will leave this place and never come back. I will not turn out like my mother.' Her Mum is a single parent with two drug running sons, one of whom is in jail. Her street contains a range of eclectic characters, and a huge threatening dog. Mim is disappointed when Tahnee, her best friend, loses her virginity in the back seat of a car and the closeness of their friendship is put at risk.
All I Ever Wanted is a relatively thin 200 pages but this is a positive, as many reluctant readers will be inclined to read it. It covers themes of family, friendship, ambition and teenage life. The storyline is well developed and the people are richly described. It will resonate with teenagers from either rich or poor backgrounds, as it is human nature to want more or different than what you have.
Highly recommended for 12 years plus and could well be used as a Yr. 8 text.
Kay Haarsma

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