Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All I Ever Wanted - Vikki Wakefield

The Facts
Author: Vikki Wakefield
Publisher: Text Publishing
Date of Publication: May 2011
Length: 202 pages

The Fiction
From Text:  Mim knows what she wants, and where she wants to go—anywhere but home, stuck in the suburbs with her mother who won’t get off the couch, and two brothers in prison. She’s set herself rules to live by, but she’s starting to break them. Now Mim has to retrieve a lost package for her mother. Does this make her a drug runner? Why is a monster dog called Gargoyle hidden in the back shed? And Jordan, the boy she sent Valentines to for years, why is he now suddenly a creep? How come there’s a huge gap between her and her best friend, Tahnee? And who is the mysterious girl next door who moans at night?

Over the nine days before her seventeenth birthday, Mim’s life turns upside down. She has problems, and she’s determined to solve them herself. But in the end, she works out who her people are, and the same things look entirely different.

A book recommended by Fiona Wood and Cath Crowley? (oh you know, just two of my favourite Australian authors) - I’m definitely in! Of course I was not let down, as All I Ever Wanted is heartfelt, original novel which I completely adored.

One of the things I loved that most about this book was the fact that Vikki Wakefield has successfully written a ‘tough’ female character who is smart and loyal and independent. Mim is a brilliant and incredibly real character, who could have easily been turned into a “wrong side of the tracks stereotype”. Mim tries to live by her own self-prescribed rules, with the thought that these will be her key to family home and neighbourhood behind, and I love that she is so determined to make something of herself. The cast of supporting characters are also integral to the success of the novel and are well-utilised by Wakefield. What stood out to me was the range of strong, developed female characters in All I Ever Wanted, including Mim’s tough mother, her friend Tahnee, mysterious phone-girl Lola, and quietly-confident Kate.
The setting of the novel was also something that intrigued me. I don’t remember the place being named (though I could be wrong), but is described (beautifully) by Wakefield as “a lost street in a forgotten suburb, an hour from the city” which of course allows the reader the flexibility of being able to picture this small, somewhat seedy suburb in their own way. It feels almost a cliché to use this now, but I truly feel like All I Ever Wanted has so much heart – in its characters, plot and gritty writing. Mim’s voice is honest and her realisations through the course of the novel are so relatable, that you can’t help but find yourself completely submerged in this story.

This is a beautiful debut from Vikki Wakefield. In a very slim 200 pages, the book packs a powerful punch, with every word feeling so purposefully selected. For fans of contemporary young adult literature, please add this to your reading lists (and be prepared to add Vikki Wakefield as the next Australian YA author to watch!).

I want to end this review with a huge thank-you to the lovely sales assistant at Readings book shop in Port Melbourne, who recommended this to me – this has been one of my favourite reads this year.

This post is part of Aussie August - a month of sharing all-Australian reviews and content.


Cass (Words on Paper) said...

"In a very slim 200 pages, the book packs a powerful punch, with every word feeling so purposefully selected."

That kind of statement is what's going to get me to buy a copy. ;) Great review! I've heard so much praise for this book.

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