Fremantle Press (2013)
Reviewed by Peta Harrison
A novel for the more mature adolescent reader written by a West Australian born to Italian migrants. Like the novels of Marlena Marchetta, this one resonates with the emotional highs and lows of being part of the Italian culture, of being caught between two worlds and not feeling like you fit in either. Set in 1987, it follows Mira’s life as she leaves secondary school and enters the world of university in an era when many thought that the Cold War was going to see the nuclear annihilation of the world. To this end she is constructing a map of the city in an attempt to find somewhere to hide when Armageddon strikes. Add to this a mother ‘recovering’ from cancer, a father who is uncommunicative and a bevy of relatives, including an aunt who just has to have the last say in all family matters, and it is no wonder that Mira feels the need to escape from her life.
While the main focus of the novel are the relationships between the characters it is also a realistic representation of the era, throwing in many historically interesting events – protest marches about US nuclear powered subs in Australian ports, the use of drugs and the differing expectations of generations in families. It also looks at the breakdown of cultural norms and the increasing breakdown in mainstream families.
There are some elements in the book that may be of concern to those working in non-government schools as there is some explicit (but appropriate) language and calm acceptance of drug taking and sex.