This story is about a girl. Teresa. It begins in 1975, when she’s only twelve. She’s just left her homeland, Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, now riven by revolution and madness. In the wake of civil war, fear and terror crack open Teresa’s idyllic childhood.
Even the family pets act distraught. Granny no longer tends to her roses. Everybody starts sleeping in the same room, afraid of knives in the night. They must flee the land they have always loved, leave their cherished house behind, and give up most of the wealth Teresa’s grandfather had spent a lifetime working for. Like so many other African-born Portuguese they must begin life anew, in a small, grey, European country that resists the passage of time.
The first winter is a catalogue of small miseries. Rain falls cold and sluggish and the chill wind howls in the lanes and every day she cries for home. At school she towers over most boys and girls, and her insecurities bite deep. She sees herself as an ugly duckling. Her hips are too wide. Her feet too large. Most shoe shops don’t even carry her size!
In a country of short people, prospects of romance are limited. All the young men fail to meet her standards; they are nothing like the young Mozambican basketball players she remembers. But youth is still a blessing, and she makes new friends and gets invited to parties. Who knows what might happen then — Teresa might even meet a special someone. That is, if Teresa’s grandparents would let her out of their sight for a minute.
While the adults in her life pry and meddle and enforce the same 19th-century morals that held them in a vice, Teresa forms new alliances, breaks the rules, and dates boys. Yet the more rules she breaks, the more secrets Teresa needs to keep from her family. The new world she wants for herself, a world of romance and sunshine and freedom, does not exactly align with her grandparents’ expectations.
So as she puts on a show of good behaviour, Teresa attempts small transgressions with a little help from her friends. Sometimes it’s a little daytime drink on a school day (but she’s not doing any more of that, she swears), sometimes it’s burning your Maths books behind the school building. But most of all life’s about finding your knight in shining armour. And if you find him on the dance floor, so much the better. Now, if only Granny would allow Teresa to enjoy a night out without “parental supervision”!
But her well of secrets will overflow, and Teresa’s pursuit of love will land her in hot water…
Teresa’s story does not end here, though. I tell it in my book, Love Secrets Lies, which you can get from Amazon. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it as I had when I wrote it.
From tropical Mozambique to drab, 1970s Lisbon, from the skyscrapers of Johannesburg and the golden beaches of Durban to five-star holidays in verdant, mountainous Madeira, and even the Moroccan kasbah, you’ll follow Teresa as she stumbles and falls and picks herself up again. Will she meet her prince charming? Or is she forever fated to navigate an ocean of boys who only want one thing?
Want to know more? Check out the book’s website where you can listen to Teresa’s favourite songs, learn a little more about 1970’s Portugal, and the team behind the book. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for updates, and watch this blog for news and snippets about the book.
Edited by Jorge M Machado
Cover illustration for Love Secrets Lies by Leonor Oliveira