My favourite quote from one of the greatest books of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, is:
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
I was reminded of this quote while I was reading a wonderful book by debut Australian author, Vikki Wakefield. Her book, All I Ever Wanted is the story of Mim, who is growing up in the suburbs. She knows what she wants and where she wants to go – anywhere but home, with her mother who won’t get off the couch and her brothers in prison. She’s set herself rules to live by, like ‘I will finish school, I will not drink alcohol, I will not be like everybody else, and I will not turn out like my mother.’ However, things aren’t going to plan; drug dealers are after her, her best friend isn’t talking to her, and the guy she likes is a creep. Over the nine days before her 17th birthday, Mim’s life turns upside down.
All I Ever Wanted is a brilliant debut from Vikki Wakefield and I’ll eagerly await her next book. I loved the character of Mim, whose voice was original and authentic. Even though her life is tough, she stays true to herself and is determined not to turn out like the rest of her family. The thing that really makes this book so great is the other people we meet who are a part of Mim’s life. There’s the vicious, dodgy Mick Tarrant (who beats his family and his dog Gargoyle), her neighbour Mrs Tkautz (the grouchy woman who everyone thinks is a witch), Lola (the shy girl who lives next door), and Kate (the straight-laced sister of Jordan). When Mim actually gets to know them she realises she has misunderstood them and maybe they aren’t so bad after all.
Mim and the cast of characters in All I Ever Wanted will stay with you long after you’ve finished her story.