All That It Ever Meant

Norton. Jan. 2023. 192p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781324030959.
Gr 9 Up–In the aftermath of Matiponesa’s mother’s sudden death, her father tows her and her two siblings from the UK back to his home country of Zimbabwe for a road trip through its national parks. In the rawness of their grief their father has retreated into himself, and all are walking on eggshells to avoid the explosive rages of Chichi, Mati’s 17-year-old sister. Mati, 14, a highly observant protagonist with a rich interior life, says of herself, “I don’t overthink things, I let them come and settle in my head,” which happens to include a pipe-smoking, gender-ambiguous spirit named Meticais whom only Mati can see. Meticais appears and vanishes without warning as the family travels across Zimbabwe, each time adorned in wild new fashions, and prods Mati to narrate the events leading up to their departure from England. “It will change the story I’m telling if I keep talking about me in it,” Mati objects, and of course it does, leading to a stunning twist in the book’s final quarter. In a vibrant narrative voice that is by turns both meditative and humorous, Mati pulls apart the way stories are told to “see behind things,” navigate her grief, and explore new ways of knowing herself and her family. Wise and lyrical, Musariri’s novel pairs an insightful and layered portrait of family grief with a clever, tension-filled structure that invites rereading.
VERDICT A gorgeous, richly rewarding novel for thoughtful readers; recommended as a first purchase.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing