“The summer holiday is nearly over.This is not how it’s supposed to be.”There is nothing saccharine about Mim Dodd’s life. She’s nine days away from seventeen, has two brothers in remand, and lives in a dead suburb with a Mother she is desperate to be nothing like. Mim wants to be anywhere else, and she’s got a set of rules to live by to make it happen. It only takes one day, one package, and Mim’s life is about to change forever. All I Ever Wanted’ is a powerful and beautiful book; a stunning work of lyrical prose spiked with grit. Much like it’s protagonist, Mim, the story is tough and touching, a brutally honest slice of life on the other side of the tracks. (Mim is definitely one of my all time favourite MC's, I wish I could put a copy of this book into the hands of everyone who has had their fill of insipid, one-note heroines.)Vikki Wakefield certainly has a way with imagery in her writing – there is something very visual about the spare, apt phrases used throughout the novel. With simple lines, Wakefield captures images and characters perfectly, and Mim’s world comes to life on the pages. (This is another book I was compulsively page flagging, trying to mark all of the amazing lines.) Incredibly atmospheric, you can feel the heat rising off the ground, hear Mim’s thongs slapping the concrete, feel the sweat and dust and dirt. It’s vivid and familiar: the dodgy suburb, the lethargy of summer, the clearly drawn characters.The chapters read like a line of dominos falling over, each flowing into the next, gathering strength as the stakes are raised. As the plot gathers urgency, Mim develops as a character, forced to confront each of her staunch rules. We witness the shifts in her perception of her family, her home, and her life, and her gradual acceptance of the person she really is. In contrast to Mim’s rules, All I Ever Wanted does not deal in black and white portrayals of life. People and their actions are shown in all their shades of grey, flaws and moral ambiguity. The rougher side to life is not glossed over here, but nor is it used deliberately to shock. And while Mim’s life is no walk in the park, and her neighbourhood is less than picture perfect, the story is also hopeful, and strangely beautiful in its realism and heart. This is a striking debut, full of lingering, gorgeous, compelling writing. Reading it feels like a small and vivid piece of the real world has been captured on paper. Highly memorable and moving - I loved it.