Eleven-and-a-half-year-old Allegra is divided by a family at odds with each other.
Allegra’s mum died when she was 3, but she doesn’t know what caused her death or why it made her family stop speaking to each other. She just knows that they each love her differently, and she feels split in three ways trying to maintain relationships with each of them. Allegra lives at Number 23 with her Hungarian Jewish grandmother, Matilde, who is haunted by memories of the war and who runs a strict household. With Matilde she is Allegra. Her father, Rick, takes her surfing, and they have a good time together. But for reasons she doesn’t understand, he lives in the flat above Matilde’s garage; with him she’s Al Pal. Next door, at Number 25, lives her passionate Catholic grandmother, Joy, to whom she is Ally. When Allegra helps a friend and things go awry, their family secrets must be confronted. Set in 1970s Australia at the cusp of a cultural revolution, this is both a story of self-discovery and one of family healing. Debut author Daniel’s strength lies in the creation of complex characters; Allegra in particular operates from a sheltered existence and makes decisions, judgments, and mistakes in an authentic—and, at times, painful—way. Most characters are white except Allegra’s best friend and her mother, who are Indigenous.
An emotionally moving portrayal of the effects grief has on a family. (Historical fiction. 12-14)