Catherine Bateson takes the reader on a very emotional journey in her newest book Mimi and the Blue Slave. I might be wrong but I think this book is certain to be on the CBCA short list for 2011.
The story opens as Mimi, and her mum Lou, prepare to attend her dad’s funeral. Mimi is ill with a bad dose of flu and everyone is talking about whether Mimi is well enough to attend the service.
“I didn’t want to go to the funeral. I’d never been to one before and now my first one was going to be Dad’s. It wasn’t fair. I thought you should be able to practice funerals starting with people you didn’t know well – distant aunts and uncles perhaps. They should all be old, too. My dad hadn’t been old and now he was dead.”
Mimi has a very special friend – the Blue Slave. He works on her pirate ship. He is her confidant, her guide, her true friend, the voice of wisdom in her head. So interspersed though the story Mimi has conversations with Ableth, her pirate slave. He in turn addresses her as Queen Griselda.
This book is filled with rich characters – the aunts, sisters to Louise, Ann and Marita, the boy from the organic fruit and vegetable shop down the road called Fergus, Edie, mum’s friend from Night School and Guy, a family friend who also works in the antiques trade. Mimi's parents run a bric a brac store.
This is a story of sadness and healing, of memories and futures, of old friends and new ones. My only question is who is the intended audience? I read this book in one sitting and loved it. This book handles very sensitive issues gently and in a very real and personal way. I will recommend this book to senior girls and to other adult readers because I think the journey that Mimi takes us on is an important one. You can read more of the plot here.
Look for this gentle story in your library soon.