Title: When Life Gives You Mangos
Author: Kereen Getten
Describe the book in one word: Refreshing
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Release date: 1st October 2020
Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives – at least, that is how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season, and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There is only one problem – she cannot remember anything that happened last summer.
When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara’s memory starts to return, and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.
As a fan of YA, I was keen and intrigued to read this Middle Grade (MG) book as soon as I could. Was it what I expected? No. And I mean that in the best way possible. I loved the characters, the descriptions of the settings, the relationships discussed, and the unity of the characters. I never guessed the twists and turns – never even saw them coming, which made me love this book even more!
Do you remember your life as a child? As you grew up? I mean, really remember it, like the day to day stuff. I remember fragments of my childhood, events that I suppose were significant in some way, but pick a random week in time and ask me to describe what happened and I would not know.
I am sure this thing happens when people have children and they end up revisiting parts of their childhood and remember the moments that were significant to them as they play out in their child’s life. But for me, as a child-free (by choice) gal, reminiscing about my school days and childhood does not really happen, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed reading When Life Gives You Mangos.
How often do we, as adults, allow ourselves to feel uninhibited, free of self-conscious reserve, and have time to think about ourselves in the way children do? The life of a child is *supposed* to be carefree, happy, loving. While Clara is loved, the fact she cannot remember a chunk of the previous summer is problematic, it stops her from being free and happy.
Being transported to Sycamore was the escapism I needed. Sure, adults have adventures, but how often do we let our minds run wild, play make believe (in a way that is considered ‘healthy’) and have fun? I love that the children can be children, they play make believe, dress up, explore, have adventures, and enjoy themselves. I love the way the children support each other and care about each other.
I hate to be *that* person, but I do not like revealing key details, I want you guys to read the book yourself and enjoy the twists as much as I did. I enjoyed the pace of the book, the meandering twists and turns, but as soon as I read the big twist, I could not put the book down. I HAD to know what happened.
The book raises questions around children and trauma, how they cope with things that feel too big, and what parents can do to support them. As adults, we are expected to deal with a raft of issues that we may or may not be equipped to deal with.
I love that Clara’s parents and friends give her the space to heal and confront her feelings head on. They support her and guide her so she can move on from her experiences. I loved Clara’s parents, I loved their bond and the fact they clearly loved each other very much. It was subtle, but it was there.
For me, When Life Gives You Mangos is all about family, friendship, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, and love. I do not think the meaning changes from childhood to adulthood, but perhaps the significance does. All I know for sure, is that you should read When Life Gives You Mangos. Kereen Getten – you did an amazing job!