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The Jacaranda House by Deborah Challinor


Set in 1964 in Kings Cross, Sydney, Polly Manaia is working as an exotic dancer in a seedy club. She comes from a large family, but they are all back in New Zealand. But she’s created a life for herself, a small family of sorts with her two transgender flatmates Rhonda and Star – flamboyant people with hearts of gold. Polly’s daughter Gina has been living with her grandmother back in New Zealand since she was a toddler, but now Gina is eleven, Polly decides the time is right to bring her over to Australia to live with her.


But Polly’s lifestyle isn’t a conventional one, and Polly has been struggling with alcohol and drug addictions for some time. Polly worries that Gina might not be able to cope well with her new life – but it turns about that Gina is mature beyond her years, and it is Polly who is going to need help to rid her of her demons.


From the blurb of this book, I didn’t think I was going to like this book, although I did enjoy the previous book in this series, From the Ashes. But I loved it! All the characters shine, you really care for them, and it ends up being a beautiful portrait of love and family. It’s heartbreaking seeing Polly’s descent into drug addiction, but it feels authentic and real when you read this part of the book. The Jacaranda House is well-written and well-researched and tackles some serious topics, but it is also a page-turning, compelling read. I thought it was fabulous!


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Published by HarperCollins


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