All That It Ever Meant

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Pub Date 02 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 02 Nov 2023

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An outstanding YA novel of family love, loss, and life lived between two cultures, by an astonishing, super-stylish new voice.

‘I’m going to tell you exactly how everything happened. Baba always says, Mati mwana’ngu, I love a good story but I don’t have time for a long one, so make it short.’

When Mati and her two siblings travel from London to Zimbabwe with their father, they are forced to confront the knotty family dynamics caused by the loss of their mother. Along for the trip is Meticais, a fabulously attired gender-neutral spirit—or ghost? or imaginary friend?—who only Mati can see and talk to.

Guided by Meticais’s enigmatic advice and wisdom, Mati must come to terms with her grief and with the difficulty of a life lived between two cultures, while her family learn to forge their way in a world without their monumental mother. This is distinctive, stylish, powerful writing by a vital new voice.

An outstanding YA novel of family love, loss, and life lived between two cultures, by an astonishing, super-stylish new voice.

‘I’m going to tell you exactly how everything happened. Baba always says...

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ISBN 9781035902477
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 14 members

Featured Reviews

Mati is the middle child, she has an older sister called Chichi and a live wire little brother called Tana. Together with their father, Baba, they are travelling overland to Zimbabwe, to finish a journey which took a lifetime.

Also along for the ride is Meticais, and Mati has no idea who they really are because it seems no one else can see or hear them. As the journey unfolds Mati tells Meticais a story, it twists and turns and sometimes slows right down but she knows she has to finish it because if she doesn't then who will?

Oh my, this is a beautiful story. I have to admit to finding Mati a little much to begin with. Her thought processes and observations made her seem older than her years but as the story progressed her view of the world and those in it became easier to understand. This is an empowering but heartbreaking tale with an ending I didn't foresee. I'm glad I didn't because that would have somehow diminished its message and made it less than it deserved to be.

I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, Head of Zeus, but the opinions expressed are my own. This is a beautiful book which deals with the subject of loss in an empathetic and dignified way. Highly recommended.

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A book about processing loss, grief and how to deal with everything that it can bring with it. An emotional, at times heart-breaking read which will strike a chord with so many readers.

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This story has a huge twist at the end and there are a lot of red herrings throughout. But, given the twist, I loved the way the story unfolds. This book is all about family dynamics and how siblings can find it hard to live together. But it is also about the importance of saying sorry when you've done something wrong and taking opportunities to mend fences when arguments have happened. In this story, the children are grieving the death of their mum and their dad is grieving the death of his wife. The family seem to have become isolated in their grief and the story takes place as they travel back to Zimbabwe in an effort to reconnect. We see the story through the eyes of middle child, Mati as she talks to an mysterious figure that only she can see. Obviously, given the topic covered, the book is sad so I would recommend that thought is given if you're planning to recommend it or add it to your school library. But I would definitely recommend adding it.

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