I very recently finished reading All I Ever Wanted, a contemporary YA novel by Australian author Vikki Wakefield.
I thought it was wonderful.
It has a strange lingering quality, and kind of got beneath my skin. A little bit unsettling, to be honest.
So I was trying to figure out why I felt that way, what is it about this story that unsettles me so?
I think maybe there is a certain type of sadness that permeates throughout the novel, this idea that not everyone in society is on the same level, has the same opportunities or education, or can get the same things, no matter how hard they work.
It is a really sad idea, because it is so true. That is certainly not the message behind the novel of course, if anything it is more the opposite, that everyone needs dreams, everyone needs to find their place in the world.
But still. There is a real hard look at poverty in this story, and actually, when I think about it, we don’t see YA novels written from the point of view of a teen living below the poverty line all that often. Or at least not a lot. I haven’t read anything like this lately, so it kind of struck me.
There is something stark and beautiful about the text, and the way the story is written, and something kind of painful about it too. It is quite raw and sharp, and it doesn’t shy away from this stark portrayal of how a lot of Australians live.
I would love to know exactly what inspired this novel. I think it would be really interesting to hear that story too.
Of course it is always a personal taste thing with writing, I think every reader has something different that particularly speaks to them. I think a lot of wonderful authors really speak to me, and Vikki Wakefield is definitely one of those.
I still feel a little dazed after finishing this. And a little bit sad. But in a good way?
For any contemporary YA fans (or just anybody at all who is a fan of well-written stories) I would definitely recommend this novel.
Read it. Go on.