The story begins on her first day of school in a new city, a new country, a new continent. She is now living in Lisbon, having been forced to leave her native Mozambique after its independence from Portugal in 1975. She is only twelve then, but a very precocious girl.
The last year and a half has been painful, even traumatic: after the 1974 revolution in Portugal things changed dramatically in the colonies. Her family’s peaceful existence was substituted by a constant feeling of fear, anguish and, ultimately, loss – the loss of their beautiful house and their beloved homeland.
As young people usually do, she soon adapted to her new life in Lisbon; in her story she describes her family, the post- revolutionary political situation of the country, how she adapted to the “long cold winter”, to her new school, new friends…she tells us about her loves (very platonic at first), her relationship with her separated parents, her younger brother and her controversial grandparents (very forward in some matters but so old fashioned in others), and of her struggle to be happy but above all to pursue what she believed in and how she thought she should live her life. She fought for her rights and rebelled against harsh authority, even if she never let herself forget the gratitude and regard she had for her grandparents.
As a true romantic, she was always entangled in some amorous adventure, either with the boys she loved – and who up to a certain time never loved her back, so these adventures were mostly imaginary – or with those who were crazy for her but to whom she was indifferent. As a young teenager she found herself too tall and felt like an “ugly duckling”. As time went by and she learned what it was to love and be loved, we see her emerge as a confident young woman, always with very strong principles and a sense of duty but also showing a great sense of humour and wanting to have fun and make the most of life. As a teenager in those changing times she is frequently torn between the morals of her elders and what she feels is the right thing to do, the main issue in this aspect being to have or not to have sex with your boyfriend – and when. Society was changing but Portugal had just come out of forty eight years of a strict society where morals where concerned and her grandparents were a good example of it.
How she lived through those years, how she faced the obstacles to the way she wanted to live her life, how she matured as a person, her ideas, her loves, her friends, her studies, her music – from disco sound to punk rock – her goals in life…this is what we will learn as we read her story. The story of how that teenager lived the best years of her life – and became a woman in the process.
I am writing this story and, as if by chance, I listen to Brandi Carlile’s beautiful song “The story”:
“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you”.
Yes, it’s true. This story was made for you.