The Film of Our Life

Publisher: Editorial Cruïlla

Review

When crisis strikes, a girl convinces her brother that they are the stars of a film to protect him from the harsh realities of their new life.

Twelve-year-old Olívia Tancredi lives in Barcelona with her actress mother Íngrid and her little brother Tim. When Íngrid can't find work, money to pay the bills runs out, their furniture is repossessed, and they are evicted from their home, forcing the family to become squatters in a poor neighbourhood. To protect Tim from the truth of what is happening, Olívia invents a game: she pretends they are actors in a secret film and promises him opportunities to show off his acting skills, such as when the bailiffs call to round to seize their belongings. While Olívia and Tim start to get used to their new life, Íngrid is hospitalized with depression. Olívia tries to find ways to cheer up her mother, but nothing seems to work. She and Tim attend an audition on their mother's behalf, and Tim is given a job. After Olívia tells her mother they will be taken into care, Íngrid rallies, finds a job as a secretary and a home to rent. As they rebuild their lives together, Olívia tells her brother the secret film has ended.

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Here's what our judges had to say:

"This story happens to be set in Spain, but it captures the experience of any ordinary family, in any European country, whose world is turned upside down by economic crisis. Our young narrator, Olivia, is a compelling voice keen to make sense of – and protect her little brother from – the imminent prospect of repossession and homelessness. I was gripped by this fresh and brave polyphonic tale, in which Olivia must draw both on her imagination, and the community around her, to disguise and transform the realities of financial hardship, and of adults who can no longer cope." – Sarah Ardizzone

"This book gripped me from the first pages, as a Barcelona family struggles to pay bills and slides towards homelessness. Big topics – European recession, precarious employment, faceless banks – are handled deftly with many comic touches. Twelve-year-old Olivia is a very appealing and resourceful protagonist who finds inventive ways to protect her younger brother from the anxieties of their situation. While not shying away from the troubles children experience when overwhelmed parents lose control, this story celebrates the resilience and ingenuity of young people, the care siblings take of one another, and the transformative power of the imagination." David Cross

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