Mama's Trippin', by Katy Watson-Kell

When Von travels from his home in Fremantle to Wellington, New Zealand, he is unsure what to expect. He hasn’t seen his mother, Charlene, since she left him when he was just six years old. Now, ten years later, she has a two year old daughter and is working as a dancer in a nightclub.

Von finds himself acting as babysitter for his new sister, Stella, while Charlene works and tries to survive without her boyfriend, Peter, who is running from the cops and from his former partner in a drug-manufacturing business which has turned sour. Then Charlene disappears and Von is left with little Stella to care for. Has his mum gone off on a drug-induced bender, or is something even more sinister at play? And why does Von feel called to the ancestral home of his Moriori ancestors in his search for answers?

Mama’s Trippin’ is a young adult novel about family, heritage and about the seedy underworld of drug culture and its effects on family. Von’s mother loves her children but Von sees history repeating itself as he watches Charlene’s struggle with looking after Stella in just the same way she struggled with Von. He is also coming to terms with his Moriori and Maori ancestry and his relationship with both of his parents.

This is a heart-wrenching read for teens.

Mama’s Trippin’, by Katy Watson-Kell
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2006