Sunday, May 26, 2013
The Mimosa Tree by Antonella Preto
The Mimosa Tree by Antonella Preto
It’s the summer of 1987 and Mira is beginning her first year at uni. She’s got a radical new haircut, and an all-black wardrobe — she should be having the time of her life.
But it’s hard to get excited about anything when you’re being smothered by your crazy Italian family, enrolled in a course you’re not interested in, and expecting nuclear warfare at any moment.
Even a new best friend and the magnetic boy from art class can’t wipe away the image of a looming mushroom cloud. And Mira’s right. Her world is about to explode, but it’s not the skies she should be checking.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mimosa Tree is real. Never mind the beautiful girl who’s got it all going for her; in this a girl who knows who she is and cannot seem to fit in. Never mind the perfect family and easy connections, in this we’ve got people shouting over each other to be heard; it’s shouting that strengthens connections she could deal with out at times. And never mind the perfect boy you may or may not fall for at first glance, because while there is one here, he’s more than that too.
I love how real things got…how Mira felt she didn’t have much to offer all together but thought she had it all figured out. Then how they all knew her and she them, but always only up to a point. There’s always this distance to her, you see. Then there’s how other people in her life all have their own thing because isn’t that the way things really go? How things weren’t (just) about her, even when she felt as if it we were like that. And there’s that closeness she refuses to see, because she’d much rather be set apart and pick things as she preferred. There’s a bit here about her survival map ~ an obvious play on how she’d rather be that unreachable place, free from fall out… and maybe this is a sad thing, but it’s the main thing that rang true for of her: this need to be her own person and pick and choose whatever that meant.
Family. There are loud women who know what needs doing, and there she is swept along by their whims. There’s a father with baggage, and we see he deal with him as he doesn’t deal with his. There’s honesty in her reactions to all of them: affection for one, hostility for others… and then confusion over why her mother’s reactions to her daughter’s approach toward her father. It’s her father and his ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ that added friction, a bit simple at first but not quite the longer you consider the two of them… the three of them actually. Simple but not quite as we see his baggage and her deal with him as didn’t deal with his own. (I muddled that one up, didn’t I?) My point is… there are real connections in this one… just not easy ones.
And more than those of father, mother and daughter, we’ve got the added layer of her mother and her sisters. The tensions between the sisters, and the parallels between their story and Mira’s own felt more in a way. It’s because of those tensions that the final chapters here broke my heart a little bit.
Friends Insecure is what comes to mind. Surprising since she’s sure of what she doesn’t like and what she does like, but she’s not quite sure about what others see in her. So that when another so different from her takes an interest, she’s one part wary and another surprised. There’s this eventual building up of confidence that was a lovely development… because they’re so oddball in pairing: her, dour mean sad girl and the other girl who’s anything but.
Loves? Throw in someone who’s a bit more like her, and it could have felt a tad too perfect… because see here, there’s a guy who gets me! But it doesn’t happen that way. And the little doubts she had and her going of half cocked all worked with the image I had of her. But then there’s him setting the two of them apart, saying things like nobody gets us but us and I would have rolled my eyes except I didn’t because they areyoung and the inconsequential tend to feel big and dire then. So them doing hammered home the reality that what they were doing was a young thing to do because, the fact is, they are both young… and that’s not actually a bad thing.
Thank you PBT for touring the book!
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