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The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti - Review

Monday, July 23, 2018

Where did I get it? I bought it on Kindle a few weeks ago, it was just 98p

What's it about? It's a middle grade book about an Italian girl called Mafalda. She is nine years old and she has Stargadt disease, meaning she is going blind. There are dots in her eyes and degeneration of her macula. I had heard of this disease before, because Kaitlyn in Floored has it too. It turns out that the author of this book, Paola Peretti, has it too, so she's obviously writing from a place of knowledge.

Anyway, Mafalda is going blind faster than she and her parents and her doctors hoped, meaning that is likely to be left in the dark within six months. And like she says, all children are afraid of the dark. 

Mafalda has a list of things she will no longer be able to do, and as she stops being able to do them, she crosses them off. She also watches to see how many steps it is between the cherry tree and when she is able to see it. The tree is outside her school and it means a lot of Mafalda. 

At school, one of the caretakers, Estella, is a particular friend of Mafalda's, and I loved this relationship. We also see Mafalda make a new, careful friendship with a boy in the class above her, Filippo. He is a "bad" boy and at first their relationship is very stilted, but I loved how we got to know him through Mafalda.

This is an almost perfect example of a middle grade book. It deals with some really hard themes in a very simple but never simplistic way. I loved Mafalda, I thought she was a really likeable and relatable character. I also really liked her parents. And her cat!

I thought the ending was brilliant too - I think I stopped breathing at one point. It is hard hitting but done in a really, really beautiful way. I would definitely read anything 

What age range is it for? 9+, I think 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, and Estella is an immigrant into Italy, I liked how this was deal with. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Obviously. I loved how Mafalda described things, like some things were "fuzzy", or she had to get up really close to things, or how she looked at herself in the mirror. 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, it is done beautifully. I thought it was extremely age appropriate 

Are there swear words? No 

What criticisms do I have? Honestly, barely none. 

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. I think this would be a lovely book for a parent and child to read together, too.

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I actually had it earmarked to read on holiday but I didn't have internet connection to download it, so I had to wait until I got home

What other books is it like? Gosh, I can't think of any 

How many stars? Five out of five. Like I said, it is a great example of middle grade contemporary

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