A Girl in Three Parts

Apr. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984851079.
Gr 9 Up–Originally published as a work of general fiction in Australia and New Zealand, Daniel’s debut novel is repackaged for a young adult audience in Canada and the U.S. Eleven-year-old Allegra has spent her whole life surrounded by a family in the midst of its personal Cold War following an unspoken tragedy that tore them apart. Her two grandmothers, Matilde and Joy, are next-door neighbors yet barely acknowledge each other’s existence. Meanwhile, her father, Rick, lives just above the garage and takes a backseat role in the family. As Allegra navigates pre-teen life in her Sydney suburb, different versions of what is true about the past come to the surface and shatter the last frail ties holding the family together. This novel is a quiet yet sincere story that slowly builds to its climax as its young narrator comes of age. Reading this story is like getting to know a real, albeit dysfunctional, family. They are flawed and sometimes slow to forgive themselves and each other, yet at their core they love and want to protect one another. Set in 1970s Australia, the novel is heavily influenced by second-wave feminism, and themes surrounding domestic abuse, abortion, and gender relations are central to the events of the plot. Daniel weaves these themes in naturally to ultimately produce a family-centered story with emotional depth.
VERDICT Although it is a captivating debut, this novel may resonate more with an adult audience than with teens and would be a better purchase for a general fiction collection in libraries.

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