Caught sight of this book while browsing at the bookstore; read a few pages and loved the distinctive narrative voice and the Melbourne inner-suburb vibe. All the positive reviews I glanced at kept mentioning how cute it was, and I certainly found it cute, which is largely down to the central character, Cedar B Hartley, and her quite charming way of thinking about things. But in general I couldn’t really fault this book. It is utterly engaging – a simple story about an almost-teen who is in self-devised ‘training’ to be an acrobat. Doesn’t sound like much, right? But Cedar is at that beautiful age where she knows a whole lot, or is learning for the first time – but at the same time doesn’t really know anything at all – and this creates such a lovely intelligent naivety that sets the whole tone of the book.
The only parts I didn’t quite feel completely charmed by were the explanation at the end about her father – it was perhaps a bit clunky and tacked on, when it probably could have been worked in a little more seamlessly throughout. Also maybe just a couple of times I thought I was being pushed a little too much with ‘Greenie’ and left-wing politics, albeit in a very watered down way. Still, it was enough for me to notice.
I loved Cedar – her voice, her understanding of the world, her courage and humour. Such a great little character: precocious without being annoying, and for all her sass, a little girl who considers others and is genuinely kind. I enjoyed very much reading the scenes with her and her mother, and also the relationship she has with her missing brother Barnaby: really just their little family unit as a whole. Very touching without being sappy.