My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think if I’d read this book twenty-three years ago I’d have appreciated it more. It’s a coming of age story from what seems to be a more innocent time: pre-September 11, pre-social media; from an era when a family gathering to make a year’s worth of passata was cause for embarrassment rather than a mark of culinary cosmopolitanism and a sure-fire ticket to the MasterChef grand final.
I suppose it’s a good thing that third-generation Italian-Australian Josephine Alibrandi’s narration of the trials of her final year in high school now seems dated; being of southern European descent, a ‘wog’, no longer attracts unfavourable commentary from the casually racist in this country. Not that there’s much evidence, more broadly, that Australian society has become less racist in the intervening years–attention has merely shifted to more recent migrants who have arrived in Australia after fleeing war and persecution in their homelands.
For better or worse, the storyline around the mental well-being of one of Josephine’s friends has stood the test of time. I look forward to the day when John Barton’s fate is rendered unbelievable.