The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Written by Paola Peretti

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LoveReading View on The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

In a Nutshell: Tender tale of darkness, loss, light and hope for all ages

August 2018 Book of the Month | “All children are afraid of the dark,” says ten-year-old Mafalda sagely, and she knows this more than most, for her world is misting over. At some point in the next six months she will lose her sight to Stargardt Disease. Mafalda tries to get on with life but, as the days pass, the mist’s darkness descends ever faster, leaving her increasingly lonely.

The novel’s universal, book-for-all-ages power has echoes of The Little Prince. Indeed, de Saint-Exupéry’s classic is referenced here by the inspiring one-of-a kind Estella, a school caretaker Mafalda befriends, who advises her to find her rose, “the thing that’s essential to you”, just like the Little Prince. Mafalda measures her vision in paces from a very special cherry tree. And, movingly, the book’s five parts are headed with titles that point to the deterioration of her sight, starting with Part One Seventy Metres, the distance from which she can see the cherry tree as the novel begins.

Estella delivers further vital advice later in the novel: “To live in fear is not to live at all”, and it’s Estella who helps make a truly magical, heart-rending ending. Readers of all ages will be drawn deep into Mafalda’s poignantly pitch-perfect narrative. Younger readers will identity with, for example, how she knows when her parents are discussing something important but can’t quite grasp the meaning, while adult readers will fill in the blanks Mafalda is left puzzling over. Inspired by the author's own experience of Stargardt Disease, this is a dazzlingly tender and timeless tale of love and courage. 

Joanne Owen

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree Synopsis

A novel for all ages about a young girl losing her sight, inspired by the author's own
life story. Can Mafalda find a way through a seemingly dark future and still go to school, play football and look after her beloved cat? With the help of her family, and her friends, Mafalda needs to discover the things that will be important to her when her sight has failed. A moving, empowering tale of courage and determination that will inspire young and old.

Fifteen years ago, Paola discovered that she was affected by a rare genetic illness called Stargardt disease, which causes progressive vision loss, and eventually blindness. There is no cure to date.
Stargardt disease affects approximately one in 10,000 people. It affects both males and females. Children often first experience symptoms between the ages of 6 and 12. (Macular Society - www.macularsociety.org 2017)

“I’m going blind. That’s the cold, hard truth. With my brown, rather ordinary eyes I see only a fifth of what other people can see. Literature is my biggest passion. I want to write. I can’t wait any longer. I have eyes inside my hands, and when I’m writing I see even better inside my head.”

Translated by Denise Muir.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to the review by one of the Lovereading4kids editorial experts some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Click here to read the full reviews.

  • Annabelle Cassidy, Age 9 - 'This is a heart warming book that made me really think about how some people have difficult problems in their lives but they don’t let it stop them from believing in what they can do.'
  • Issie Ford, Age 10 - 'Perfect for fans of ‘Wonder’, this is a powerful, bittersweet story of a girl’s journey into darkness as she loses her sight.'
  • Faye Dawson, Age 12 - 'A touching tale about a little girl who has to face big changes. A story which teaches us all about what is most important in life and about the value of friendship and love in tough times.'
  • Daniel and Alexander Bisland, Age 10 and 12 - 'This story is about friendship, love and accepting your destiny, even when it’s not what you wanted. We could see this book made into a film!'
  • Lucy Collings, Age 8 - 'A story all about Mafalda whose sight is failing. She must discover all the things that are most important to her. A book that will make you think about what you love most!'
  • Prisha Yadav, Age 8 - 'An interesting book with lovely imagination.'
  • Charlotte Walker - 'This is a beautiful and heart-breaking story. I would recommend for both teens and adults.'
  • Jennifer Wood, Age 10 - 'Beautiful book. Really made me think about what is important in life.'
  • Rosie Watch - 'The title and its significance will stay in my mind for a long while.'
  • Bea Whithear, Age 11 - 'A heartwarming story about 9 year old Mafalda who will lose her sight in the next few months and how she copes knowing that she will be in darkness.'
  • Evie Macaulay, Age 12 - 'The story is very heart-warming,especially as my Nan has the same rare condition, it's made me more aware of how hard it's been for her.'

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree Press Reviews

A simply told, bitter-sweet story, with a powerful poetic message -- Jacqueline Wilson


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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781471407550
Publication date: 09/08/2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781471407550
Publication date: 9th August 2018
Author: Paola Peretti
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 208 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: General Fiction
Recommendations: Books of the Month, eBooks
Other Categories: Reviewed by Children

About Paola Peretti

Paola Peretti is Italian and was born in the province of Verona, where she still lives today. She studied literature and philosophy and graduated in publishing and journalism in 2011 with a thesis on gender discrimination in literature. Between 2015 and 2016 she attended the Palomar School of creative writing in Rovigo. During and after her studies she worked as a waitress, bartender, baby sitter and teacher, while writing articles for the local newspaper. Fifteen years ago, she discovered that she was affected by a rare genetic illness called Stargadt Disease which causes progressive vision loss, and eventually blindness. There is no cure ...

More About Paola Peretti

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