The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Review

Nine-year-old Mafalda has a degenerative eye condition. As she walks to school each day, the cherry tree that she loves to climb now also represents a poignant means of measuring just how quickly her sight is deteriorating, as she sees it less and less clearly.

Mafalda keeps a list of all the things she will miss when her sight is completely gone, including counting the night stars and playing football. Thankfully, there are some constants in her life – along with her beloved cherry tree, she has her long-suffering cat, her family, and several precious friends. Particularly important is her Romanian caretaker at school, Estella, who, Mafalda will learn, has her own reasons for understanding what is really important in life.

At 200 pages, this is a short but satisfying read. The author’s own experience of Stargadt disorder and her determination to offer both realism but also optimism ensure an honest, authentic and well-balanced narrative. We see not only the pain and the challenges of sight loss, but also the sources of hope, as Estella helps Mafilda to realise that to live in fear is not to live at all.

Tender and thought-provoking, with a powerful but unforced message.

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