AWW2013 – Book 28
Children’s Historical Fiction
Lina is an enthusiastic girl living in Melbourne in 1956. She’s a scholarship student at an exclusive private school where everyone knows she’s a good writer, but no one really understands what it’s like to be part of a large Italian family. Lina spends a lot of her time trying to balance her life – trying to fit in with the carefree lives of her school mates, full of afternoon visits, pretty dresses and parties; while fulfilling her family role – looking after her brother, helping her parents with chores as they work to provide Lina and her siblings with the best possible future.
This was a very evocative book, filled with vivid images of a Melbourne excited about the upcoming Olympics, but also a Melbourne where there’s a very real difference between those who have money and those who don’t. I really love the character of Lina, the way her temper can get the better of her at times, the way she’s pulled between her two lives. I also love that there’s some relatively minor characters who are so richly drawn – such as the teacher who minds the school library that Lina turns up to early each morning.
In some ways, there seems to be less at stake in Meet Lina (and Lina’s series) than there is in some of the other books and other times. We don’t have the desperate fight just to survive which you see in Meet Grace, Meet Letty or Meet Nellie. There’s no spectre of war that we find in Meet Alice or the loneliness and need for family that we find in Meet Poppy. There isn’t even the fight for rights that Rose is fighting for. Instead, this is a more quiet, more reflective book – shining a light on a time which is easier – at least on the surface. It’s what’s going on underneath which is much more interesting here.