Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 590
A Girl in Three Parts
(Updated: July 10, 2020)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
A GIRL IN THREE PARTS by Suzanne Daniel is a novel set in Sydney, Australia during the 1970’s. It follows eleven-year-old Allegra as she grows up in a confusing world, navigating her unusual family dynamics. Allegra lives with her grandma, Matilde, next door to her other grandma, Joy. Unfortunately, Matilde and Joy can’t stand each other. This hurts Allegra more than she’s willing to admit out loud, especially because her mom died when she was only three, and her father, Rick, has had such a passive role in her life since. In Allegra’s heart, she wishes they weren’t all so fractured, but she has no idea how to bring them together.

This book is a quiet, beautiful, and painful ride. It deals with heavy topics, but introduces them through the eyes of a child as she discovers new harsh realities and attempts to understand them for the first time. Besides loss of a parent, this book tackles violence against women and the need for sisterhood, teenage pregnancy, surviving a war, religious intolerance, and physical illness. Still, the story manages to keep itself from being too heavy or depressing, and in many ways, it feels like a slice of life. In fact, I certainly can relate to the compulsion and need to bridge the rift between family members, even when it seems impossible.

That being said, it’s hard to identify exactly where this book fits. The protagonist is young in both age and naiveté, but the novel is written with a level of thematic maturity that skews more towards young adult and adult readership. This novel will appeal to those who enjoy stories about family, tragedy, feminism, and surviving with hope. It may even be a walk down memory lane for those who went to Catholic school or lived in Australia during the ‘70’s.

What works really well is Allegra’s voice. It’s fresh, humorous, and highly observant of the world around her. The other characters are also quite unique- Joy with her eccentric and erratic ways, Matilde with her old school strictness, and Rick with his surfer dude lifestyle. Sometimes, the characters behave so strangely, like Joy bottling all of her tears in glass jars, that they skirt the line of becoming caricatures, but it’s also what makes this story its own.

Overall, A GIRL IN THREE PARTS is not just a tale of growing up, but one of reckoning with the past and finding the courage show others how we want to be loved. Allegra, small but mighty, will find her way into readers’ hearts.
EJ
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