Review Blog

Mar 28 2013

The Mimosa Tree by Antonella Preto

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Fremantle Press, 2013. ISBN 978 1 922089 19 9.
(Age: 14+) Western Australia. 1980's. Drug use. Growing up. Mira is spellbound by her new life: she has cut her hair, said goodbye to her stifling Catholic school and ignored the attempts by some of her classmates to keep in touch. University begins tomorrow, a whole new life is before her and she cannot wait. Home is claustrophobic, her mother and her aunts circle, dolling out advice with the spagetti, proud of the fact that she is to taken this step, but very uncertain, knowing that all she needs is to marry and have children as they did.
But things are changing at home as well. Her dispirited father lopes into view, demanding and non communicative, her mother has had cancer and there is the hint that it may be returning, one of her aunts is unhappy with her marriage, while at uni, Mira meets new people and goes down paths they cannot dream of. At a party she finds that a boy she thought of as a friend is unreliable, but she seems drawn to him and continues the friendship despite her misgivings, eventually moving in with him in a near demolished house.
A growing up story set in the 1980's where kids experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, Mira is a well rounded character, vulnerable, fascinating, naive and able to bounce back although the death of her mother sees her bury herself in sorrow until her aunts try to break the cycle she has built for herself.
With overtones of Looking for Alibrandi, this story of an Italian girl moving away form home and finding her own feet is infectious, making the reader think about their own move away from home and family and younger readers to ponder on what life holds for them once they leave school. But Mira takes the LSD path, burying herself in the hallucinogenic drug until a bad trip sees her rouse herself to take hold of her life once again. Not a story for younger readers.
Fran Knight

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