It's dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she's about to leave. Mannie's ready to start a new life and forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother who's always overshadowed her, and his friend Harry Jacob, who just might be Mannie's boyfriend . . .
And her only clue is an unfamiliar address in Melbourne, written on a scrap of paper found in her brother's room. As she makes her journey to the city, the mystery of this vulnerable, quirky girl is revealed piece by piece in her search for a way to become whole again.
With rare sensitivity and a poetic voice that is unmistakably her own, Martine Murray tells a story about growing up and listening to your heart.
In her mother's red dress, Mannie leaves the quiet country and heads to Melbourne, Australia. She has business there or she may just travel further; she is not exactly sure. Her grandmother lives in Melbourne so she can start there. As Mannie travels, she relives memories of her spirited mother, her quiet father and her rebellious brother, Eddie. She also reflects on feelings for Harry, Eddie's friend. As Mannie visits with her grandmother, Mannie realizes that her grandmother needs to live with Mannie and her father. She also faces her brother's death and her mother's departure to France. While the writing in this novel is very good, it is too introspective and lyrical to appeal to most teenage readers. In spite of some profanity, a brief sexual situation and the hint of romance between Harry and Mannie, the introspection takes away from Mannie's trip to Melbourne. Also, some of the Australian words may be somewhat unfamiliar to American readers. Some teenage readers with literary aspirations might stick with this book; most young adults would become aggravated over the story's slow pace. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk