Queenie in Seven Moves by Zanni Louise is a beautiful middle grade novel that highlights the unexpected gifts that come from stepping out of your comfort zone, such as the opportunities to grow, realise your full potential, meet new people and embrace new experiences, follows twelve year old Queenie and her Mum, Clare, as they move seven times over one summer during the COVID pandemic. This is an unprecedented time, securing a rental property is highly competitive and almost impossible, homelessness is on the rise. Queenie and her Mum find themselves unexpectedly without a place to live as their rental home that Queenie adores and affectionately calls Peachy is sold. With very little notice Queenie and her mum must uproot their lives and are forced to find a new home quickly. Coupled with homelessness, Queenie, a talented guitar player battles with stage fright which isn’t helped by her former best friend upstaging her at every performance. Together with the upheaval, heavy hearts, frustration, loss and doubt sits kindness, new friendships, resilience, courage, uplifting journeys of self-discovery, the unlocking of creativity and true potential as well as learning and feeling what home really means.
As time runs out to find a new home after Peachy, Clare is offered a room for two weeks at her place of work, Diamond Sands Senior Village. For Queenie who is about to finish primary school, she quickly discovers that her preconceived ideas of a seniors village are challenged. She makes connections with the residents and forms an instant and special bond with Audrey. They bring out the best in each other and give each other the confidence to pursue endeavours they otherwise would not have embraced. This is a joyous intergenerational friendship.
Clare and Queenie soon need to find another place to live. It so happens that Queenie finds herself living with Dory, a boy from her class. During this time a new teacher at school introduces them to song writing. As a talented guitarist, Queenie draws on her feelings and emotions and dabbles in writing lyrics. Dory happens to be a whiz with technology and is able to record and upload Queenie’s music which gains traction and popularity.
Different situations transpire which forces Queenie and her mum to be in a constant state of flux as they have no choice but to move to different sorts of housing. Each of these moves see a new layer of Queenie revealed. Queenie gains confidence, new skills, interests, perspective and slowly learns to accept her mum’s new boyfriend. For her and her mum the moves become journeys of self-discovery and acceptance.
Zanni Louise was inspired by real events when her family suddenly found themselves forced to move from their rental home and then saw them move seven times during one summer in the pandemic. Her experiences inspired this story with nuanced layers, perfectly imperfect likeable characters and relatable relationships where in some cases bonds are tested and the relationship strained. Young readers (from ten years) will very much enjoy this absorbing read and accompanying Queenie on her journey, her physical one of moving homes as well as her emotional and creative one.