H00t #45 All I Ever Wanted

When I started reading Vikki Wakefield's All I Ever Wanted, it was just after the Wall Street Journal article about darkness in YA fiction, and the subsequent response to this. I confess I spent most of the first half thinking, well this is a perfect example of a text that would further the 'YA books are too dark' argument. How wrong I was. And what a great lesson in perceptions this book offers.

The book starts with nearly seventeen year old Mim retrieving a package for her mother. The implication is that there are drugs in the package. She desperately wants to escape her (literally) wrong side of the tracks, suburban life, and has created a set of rules that will help her achieve this:

I will finish school.  I will not take drugs. I will not get tattoos. I will not drink alcohol. I will not say ‘fuck’ all the time. I will not have sex. I will not be like everybody else. I will only trust myself. One day I will leave this place and never come back. I will not turn out like my mother.
When Mim's best friend Tahnee breaks one of their agreed pacts, Mim's rules start "clacking over like dominoes" and it seems everything is about to change.

Wakefield writes some excellent minor characters, the neighbours are especially memorable. The Tarrant family with alcoholic Mick, his wife Donna and dog Gargoyle make for much of the menace just outside Mim's front door. In fact the street seems like something out of Underbelly or Animal Kingdom, sides of Australia that are not commonly represented.

In contrast, the love interest, Jordan and his sister Kate  live  seemingly in a different world where there are shade trees and "...the trucks don't forget to pick up the rubbish and their recycle bins aren't raided for cans or bottles. They have fences that keep people out and dogs in. Perfect little lives." However we learn Mim's perception of their lives is incorrect. Their parents don't ever seem to be around or to care when Kate gets a tattoo or that their son is involved with criminals.

So, all in all this coming of age story is a really interesting look at suburban Australia and at ourselves; the judgments that we make and just how wrong we can be.

4 hoots from 5

Happy tales,
Barking Owl