The cherry tree

The cherry tree

Paola Peretti: La distanza tra me e il ciliegio (The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, originally published by the Rizzoli Libri Milano in 2018)

Many thanks to Maxim Könyvkiadó for sending me the book!

Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl who has many dreams-and-desires for what she still wants to do. Unfortunately, however, a cloud is growing in her eyes, which the doctor calls Stargardt syndrome. In a few months it will completely fill her eyes and she will remain in the dark. Until then, Mafalda takes care of the things she can no longer do in the dark and decides to move up to the cherry tree in the school yard, into which her grandmother’s soul also moved. Every day, she counts how many steps away from the tree it takes for her to still see the cherry tree (the title of the novel comes from here). In the meantime, she finds two unexpected friends: Filippo, who is one of the worst kids in the school, and Estella, a doorkeeper from Romania.

The story has a lyrical tone, is very beautifully written and has an important message for everyone: you should not be afraid, but focus on the things that are really important for you. Mafalda learns that even if she stays in the dark, her beautiful thoughts will still be with her. Her kindness and pure soul help her through all the troubles. Finally, she starts writing a list that she can do in the dark too. I wanted to read the book because I was also interested in what it was like to be blind when I was little. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to everyone, regardless of age!

Paola Peretti is an Italian author, studied literature and philosophy, then graduated in journalism. The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree is her first book, which was inspired by her own illness, since she also has Stargardt syndrome. Many of the problems that Mafalda encountered, she had to face herself. She started writing the book in a creative writing school and the teacher was so satisfied with the way she portrayed the feelings of a little girl that she chose Mafalda as the main character, although she was afraid that it would be difficult for her to write due to her own illness. By the end of the story, however, it had a therapeutic effect on her.

The book has a sequel: Filippo, Me and the Cherry Tree, which English translation was published in 2022.