Review: All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield

Publication Date: June 27th, 2011
Text Publishing Melbourne Australia
Format: Paperback, 202 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

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.
If Mim would just be what the world expected her to be, then maybe her whole life wouldn’t be a constant fight against the current. If she would just be the type of girl who grew up surrounded by thugs and drug dealers – one who smokes, uses drugs, wouldn’t keep her legs closed, then perhaps her mother would know just what to do about her. But Mim is stubborn, adamant to leave the place where hopes and dreams go nowhere. The rules she set for herself become her religion and in nine days before she turned seventeen, she goes and breaks most of them through no choice of her own. It started with a package, it ended with a package. For better or for worse, Mim’s life is about to change.

I never usually comment on the cover of a book that I review, but I’d like to talk about how appropriate this one is. A silhouette of a girl running away or running toward something on a train track. It’s befitting that the girl on the cover is really no one definitive. Because you’ll never really know the real Mim. The real Jemima Dodd hasn’t really lived yet; not until she’s become the person that she’d always strived to be. She refused to be defined by the life that she’d always known and refused to accept that there was nothing else for someone like her. Her stubbornness is commendable – admirable. She’s lived a hard life for a girl her age and yet there’s an innocence about her that’s noticeable. It was in her undying hope that life could be better; in the way she loved Jordan from a far. But at the same time, there is this edge – a hardness about her that bailed her out of trouble time and time again and one that she’d used to help others. 

The side stories of the people who lived in Tudor Crescent were heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. They were minor characters with major impacts: Lola, the phone sex operator; The Tarrants who’d had to suffer a lifetime of physical abuse from the head of the family; the ever-knowing Benny and to Mrs. Tkautz who’d always had a prayer on her lips for Mim. To Kate, who lives a perfect life with the perfect family but who’d been waiting for the chance to break out of her skin. The best friend, Tahnee who grudgingly admire Mim. These group of people gave this book a whole another dimension and become tiny pieces of who Mim is whether she likes it or not. 

This story is about not losing sight of your dreams and about giving the people around you a second chance. A person can’t be an island. Eventually, you’ll need someone. Sometimes, your expectations and judgments become a wall that isolate you. 

These Aussie authors astound me over and over again. The stories they create has a realistic quality that has a tendency to tell you how it really is. The ugly side of life become a fairy tale that leaves a smile on your face long after you finish reading. Man, these books are hard to come by and very expensive to acquire. But never do I find myself regretting each and every time I buy them. 

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