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Book Review: When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten


'Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives - at least, that's how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There's only one problem - she can't remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara's memory starts to return and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.'


Clara lives in the small village of Sycamore where nothing happens - the parents work out of town and the kids spend most of their time sat by the river waiting for something interesting (which doesn't usually happen), but today is different. A new, cool girl called Rudy moves in and everyone is wondering - WHY!?

At the same time, Clara is struggling with memory loss and mental health issues that lead to people, even her own 'best friend' Gaynah, calling her crazy - it is only made worse as her Uncle is known as the eccentric 'witch doctor' that connects people with dead loved ones.

When Life Gives You Mangoes is a beautiful story about isolation, acceptance and healing. As Clara is only 12, her peers aren't that understanding or empathetic to her issues - Clara's life unravels even further when she realises her 'best friend' isn't really the best, especially when Clara befriends new girl Rudy. A lot of kids get stuck on the idea that friendships they make in their childhood are forever, and this book does a great job of letting you know that sometimes people drift, and that is okay.

Clara is also dealing with some trauma from last summer that she has blocked out, which means she cannot go into the water without fear overcoming her. This subplot is excellent as it allows children to become familiar with the effects of trauma whilst keeping the content kid-friendly. We see how a lot of the people in Clara's life don't understand what she is going through and resort to bullying her - this not only shows the reader that bullying is wrong, but allows kids who are going through bullying themselves a perspective into the heads of those who bully, disarming some of their power. People fear that which they do not understand, and those who bully often bully out of a lack of understanding.

Though this book is based in a quiet town where nothing ever happens, there's a whole lot of amazing in this book - a great read for those looking for something fun, relaxing and heartwarming.

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