Review Blog

Mar 10 2009

Love you two by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli

cover image

Random House, 2008.
ISBN 9781741660715.
(Age 15+) Pallotta-Chiarolli won great acclaim in 2000 for her family history Tapestry. Her new novel, Love You Two, continues to explore themes of culture, heritage and relationships within the Italian community she knows and understands.
Pina's voice is strong and courageous - she is independent but forever faced with the deep seated, confining views of many of the older generation in her family. One day Pina makes an extraordinary discovery which tosses her views to the wind. Her steadiness is shaken and she runs away to stay with a favourite uncle. Here her world is thrust about again with another discovery about the nature of her family.
It seems as if Pina is teetering on the edge of a cliff - how will she unravel these family secrets and what consequences will they have for her life?
Pallotta-Chiarolli's characters are well drawn - strong and memorable. It is easy to become part of Pina's world, experience her confusion, frustration and heart ache. The Italian flavour of the story is well conceived - humorous asides at the Italian way of life sit alongside a deep respect for its culture. There is also a strong sense of needing to recognise Italian life in a modern world and to be accepting of changing attitudes. Life in these communities in Australian cities can be a battle for many, for many and complex reasons.
The book confronts these problems well, though the subject matter may be too large for the scope of the story. Palotta-Chiarolli's issue is with recognising the array of possible relationships in a family without discrimination - I sense that she tries to encompass too much here - the storyline becomes contrived and unbelievable in parts.
The subjects of gender, sexual and family diversity make this a mature read.
Julie Wells

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