Allegra in Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel. (2019).
**4 out of 5 stars**
11 year old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different. Matilde is traditional, hard-working and wants Allegra to become a doctor. Joy is free-spirited, stores her tears in little glass bottles, is heavily involved in the women’s movement and wants Allegra to live her ‘true essence’. Allegra’s father Rick lives out the back, is a surfer and is trying to be a good dad while also still grieving the woman who connects them all.
Allegra moves between these three adult worlds until one day it becomes too much and it all explodes.
This is a very moving novel that has many touching parts along the way. There is a scene near the beginning where Matilde teaches Allegra to make a cherry strudel and it’s simply beautiful. I don’t often enjoy adult fiction books that are set from a child’s perspective, but this book was different. Allegra is an extremely intelligent and mature young lady yet is also a very believable roughly 12 year old.
The quote on the front cover of the book is poignant, tender and really sums up what’s happening for Allegra: “She knows her family loves her, but why can’t they love each other?”. Some would assume this quote would refer to parents but in Allegra’s case it refers to her grandmothers who live next door to one another and are ‘chalk and cheese’, and her father Rick who when the book begins doesn’t seem to have much of a parenting role. The storyline explores Allegra’s struggles moving between the three most important people in her life while also navigating the end of primary school and beginning of high school, her only real friend moving away, meeting and learning about women and children who need refuge from violent men and finally, learning what actually happened to her mother.
A stunning debut from this author, this book speaks straight to the reader’s heart and is one I’d happily recommend.