When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten

Published by Pushkin Press

An incredibly powerful story of Clara and her emotional outbursts, lack of memory from the previous summer and her tumultuous relationship with cousin Gaynah.

Clara and her family live in Sycamore, on a tropical island. Surfing, playing pick leaf and staying out of the intense heat and eating mangoes is all part of their summer holidays. This year though something is wrong with Clara and the entire community know and urge her parents to seek help. Over the course of the book, I speculated on what I could imagine would erase memories and the results were always sad. As I continued to read and get to know Clara, I wanted her to share the secret, show me what happened and I wanted to help her understand.

As her relationship with her cousin Gaynah gets worse over the summer, Clara is thankful for the arrival of new girl Rudy, from England. She is happy to play with Clara and has a calming effect on Clara’s emotions and this new friendship is immensely important to both girls.

This debut novel is stunning in setting, characters and events. Highly evocative and atmospheric I could see and feel the sights of Sycamore, the banana groves, the sand and ocean and I felt a connection to this small community who stick together through good and bad.

When a huge storm threatens the island, Clara is sent to fetch her Uncle Eldorath, the “witch doctor”. These are just rumors of course but it is he who will help unlock the secrets creating the anger in Clara and teach her to overcome the hurt and guilt she is bottling up.

With tears flowing as I came to the realisation, I felt all the emotions as Clara finally lets go. The tears didn’t stop until long after the ending- which causes tears for a different reason- a completely enchanting story and one which will have an everlasting effect on me.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s