Happy pills. At best you’re a dancing queen with a direct line to God; at worst you can fry your brain.
Thirty bucks each, retail. they come wrapped in a brown-paper package that fits in your bike basket. Plain view is good because a backpack on a Dodd is asking for an illegal search by a cop.
I pick up the package from Feeny Tucker, a small man with a face like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces have been pushed together to make them fit. He has a caveman’s brow and a cute, flared Barbie-doll nose. His lashes are long and pretty, his mouth thin and cruel. A thick neck, a pianist’s elegant hands and a strange floating grace like a cartoon maitre d’. Dr Frankenstein could have put him together out of spare parts.
Mim’s mother and older brothers are drug dealers. She lives in a tough part of town, with ferocious dogs, angry men and grumpy old women. Her brothers are in trouble with the police, and her mother seldom shifts from the couch. Her relationship with her mother is extremely adversarial. As Mim approaches her 17th birthday she fervently wants to avoid being sucked into the same life. But perversely, the closer she gets, the harder it seems to be. Her best friend is changing, new friends are not what they seem and the rules she had drawn up for keeping her life on track seem to be the ones she now can’t help but break. She’s in trouble and it’s getting worse. It seems inevitable that she’s going to be stuck in this life forever.
All I Ever Wanted is an un-put-downable novel. From the beginning, Mim is so likeable but scratchy that it’s impossible not to cheer her on, particularly when it seems like she must fail. Everything seems to be stacked against her, but she never gives up trying. Along the way, she discovers that impressions can be misleading, whether first or second or more. The more her carefully-constructed world begins to crack and tumble, the more she realises that her judgements of people and events have been limited or just plain wrong. It’s difficult to imagine feeling empathy for the prickly daughter of a drug-dealer from the wrong side of town, but Vikki Wakefield does a tremendous job of presenting a likeable character and forcing the reader to put aside any preconceptions…much as she forces Mim to put aside hers. Highly recommended for mid- to upper-secondary readers.
All I Ever Wanted, Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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