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Allegra in three parts by Suzanne Daniel

Allegra (of the book title) is eleven years old when we first meet her. What we know of her so far is that she has lost her mother. She lives with her grandmother, Mathilde. Next door lives Joy, her other grandmother. Dad, Rick, lives in a flat out the back of Mathilde’s house.

Allegra knows that she is fiercely loved by the people in her life, but they don’t love EACH other. The Beatles may have said, “All you need is love” but for Allegra this is not enough. The adults think that she can’t pick up on their animosity, Allegra is a very and sensitive young lady, so they are very wrong in thinking that she is oblivious to their moods.

Throw into the whole crazy mix the pain of growing up in Australia in the 1970’s, navigating through complicated classroom hierarchies and friendships and you have a clear recipe for a raging case of pre-teen angst. Don’t be mistaken, however, for thinking that this might be a morbid, negative story. Far from it. Daniel draws the characters in such a warm, sympathetic way that you can’t help but like them. The characters are well-rounded and she gives us, the readers, an insight into what makes them tick, which helps us to understand their thoughts, words and actions and we may have more empathy for them.

The dramatic conclusion is testament to the fact that we can only suppress our feelings for so long and eventually the dam bursts and overflows. For, Allegra, however, this event sparks truthfulness, honesty and revelation amongst the adults as they finally confront what they have been hiding from.

I thoroughly enjoyed this thoughtful, heart-warming, interesting read and would definitely recommend it to other readers.

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