From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Fed up with her boring country life and thrown off-kilter by recent family tragedies, 17-year-old Mannie dons her mother's long red dress, boards a train to Melbourne, and sets off into the world planning to get as far away from her everyday existence as possible. Though she starts her journey feeling sure that she is doing right by herself, she encounters memories from her past that tug at her heart and shake her resolve. Should she truly move on to become a new version of herself or go back home and make the best of her situation? The transitions between Mannie's present day and past are integrated seamlessly. The time period is the late '70s, but this is only revealed in small hints (e.g., a passing mention that Star Wars is in theaters). The story itself, while well written, is not exciting, and Mannie is not easy to identify with. The only scenes evoking any emotion are the ones with her Grandmother Ivy, and when she recounts her brother's death. Despite the author's ability as a wordsmith, readers are not likely to stick with this story to the end.Melyssa Malinowski, Parkville High School, Baltimore, MD
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In an emotion-laden attempt to leave heartbreak behind, 17-year-old Manon runs away from her rural Australian home to Melbourne. Her experiences there allow her to return to her home and remnants of family with newfound respect and love. Murray crafts beautiful and evocative prose to mark each turn in Mannie's inward and outward journeys, all while maintaining tension in revealing who, within the family, has departed and how. Each family member plays a critical part in Manon's makeup: she wears her dramatic mother's red dress; still feels the limp sustained in a fall she took playing with her brother; seeks wise counsel from her grandmother; and finds herself able to call her gentle father for a ride home at the end of her adventure. Readers of John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, and Judith Clarke will find a welcome addition to the pantheon of Australian young-adult authors. Grades 8-12. --Francisca Goldsmith