Becoming a member of the LoveReading4Kids community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...

Find out more

When Life Gives You Mangoes

Written by Kereen Getten

Write A Review

When Life Gives You Mangoes Review

Adventure Stories Books of the Month Crime / Mystery Debuts of the Month Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Star Books Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

Gripping, joyous Jamaica-set mystery about friendship, community and recovery after storms

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 7-10 | October 2020 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award

At once a moving adventure and a thrilling multi-layered mystery, Kereen Getten’s dazzling debut When Life Gives You Mangoes is set in the close-knit community of Sycamore Hill, Jamaica, where Clara spends her days playing ‘pick leaf’, having fun at the river and avoiding the wrath of moody Ms Gee. She used to love surfing, but now she’s scared of the sea and she can’t remember why. In fact, Clara can’t remember anything about last summer. She also can’t explain why her best friend Gaynah is being mean to her, and no one will tell her why Pastor Brown has turned the entire town against her Uncle Eldorath. 

Despite these unsettling mysteries, the superbly-evoked Sycamore Hill is a steady kind of place. In Clara’s words, “You live and you die here. No one leaves and no one new comes in. Sometimes that’s a good thing because you know everyone, and everyone knows you. Other times you get tired of seeing the same faces and want something new.” And then something new happens in the form of Rudy, a cool, confident girl from Britain who turns out to be Ms Gee’s granddaughter. At Rudy’s arrival, “the entire village is buzzing. This is the most excitement we have ever had,” and it’s not long before the girls strike up a beautiful bond. Soon enough, Clara is enjoying escapades her parents wouldn’t entirely approve of because “there is something magnetic about Rudy and her adventures.” 

As Clara’s memory begins to return in tempestuous flashbacks, hurricane season brings a devastating storm that coincides with everything changing - truths are laid bare, ghosts are laid to rest, and a new landscape is left in the wake of the upheavals. Poignant on friendship, family and community, in all their tricky, complicated, life-affirming forms, this Middle Grade wonder also makes pertinent reference to police prejudice in the UK. “Where I live...there are some bad kids, but there are a lot more good kids, but the police think we’re all the same,” Rudy remarks.

Clara’s huge-hearted story had me hooked and charmed from start to finish.

Joanne Owen

Other Info

The Branford Boase Award Judges said: ‘deals beautifully with grief, guilt, friendship, all as part of the story’; ‘Clara is glorious, a great central character’; ‘there’s a twist you don’t see coming, but even when you know, the book stands up to a second reading’; ‘very clever writing’.

Find out more about the Branford Boase Awards here.


When Life Gives You Mangoes Synopsis

Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives - at least, that's how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There's only one problem - she can't remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara's memory starts to return and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.

When Life Gives You Mangoes Press Reviews

'A winning debut of immense charm, grace and heartfelt wisdom' Piers Torday

'A brilliant and beautifully crafted tale... I loved it'  Sophie Anderson  

'A wonderful story with great heart, mystery, and insight. Kereen Getten is a bright new voice' - Clare Vanderpool 

'A heartfelt and accessible debut about friendship, memory, and forgiveness' - Tae Keller

If you loved this, you might like these...

The Song that Sings Us
The False Rose
The Hideaway
Paradise on Fire

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781782692645
Publication date: 01/10/2020
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781782692645
Publication date: 1st October 2020
Author: Kereen Getten
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 224 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Crime / Mystery, Family / Home Stories, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Debuts of the Month, Star Books
Collections: Our favourite children's books of 2020,

About Kereen Getten

Kereen Getten grew up in Jamaica where she would climb fruit trees in the family garden and eat as much mango, guinep and pear as she could without being caught. She now lives in Birmingham with her family and writes stories about her childhood experiences. When Life Gives You Mangoes is her debut novel.   Photo credit Aimee Spinks

More About Kereen Getten

More Books By Kereen Getten

Cover for Two Sisters: A Story of Freedom by Kereen Getten
View All Books By Kereen Getten

Share this book