All I ever wanted by Vikki Wakefield

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All I ever wanted by Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing, 2011. ISBN 1921758309.
(Ages 13+) Recommended. Contemporary novel. Mim is a few days shy of her 17th birthday in the last few weeks of the summer holidays before returning to school. Her rules are in tatters. She would never involve herself in the drug scene like her now incarcerated brothers, and yet she has picked up a parcel for her mother, and had it stolen from her on her way home. Stuck in a suburb where living in a half house means you hear what goes on next door, or the neighbours constantly fighting, avoiding the witch a few doors down and crossing the road when nearing the large snarling dog, means that the aspirations of her family and friends are narrow, and she wants more. She has written her rules on the wall of the local abandoned tower, and strives to adhere to them. But this summer, the hot dry summer, things have changed. Her best friend, Tahnee has lost her virginity, and taken up with a loser, willing to have sex with him in his car, get drunk at parties in the park, and deride her friend for her needing to finish school and go places rather than be stuck in this suburb for the rest of her life, stuck like her mother.
Mim must get the parcel back, and so goes to great lengths to retrieve it, eventually enlisting the help of the local dealer, who seems to know all about it. The person who stole it from her is the boy from across the way, in a new development, one who would usually not even give her the time of day. In trying to force him to give back her package, she becomes friendly with his sister, and the two surprisingly become friends.
A fascinating look at one girl's dreams for her future, determined not to make the mistakes of her family, and wanting a way out of a suburb which will, if it can, entrap her into the same cycle of poverty, makes this is an absorbing read. Mim is a great character, guarding her rules almost fanatically but forced to bend them somewhat according to changed circumstances this summer. How she does make the break and keep truthful to her rules will keep all readers hooked. And in the end, Oscar Wilde's quote comes to the fore, 'Who, being loved, is poor?' as Mim finds that there is more to her family and neighbours than she has realised.
Fran Knight