Teresa Silva is a witty, combative and maddeningly articulate 15-year-old who moves from the comfort of her Lisbon home to the New York suburbs. Unprepared for life in America – and, in particular, the vicious teasing she encounters at school – she finds solace in her books, her unstoppable sense of humour and her father’s playful affection. Her only friend, Angel, is a gifted but awkward 16-year-old from Brazil who worships John Lennon and his music.
When her beloved father dies, Teresa’s world comes undone. She and her troubled little brother Pedro are left with their negligent, shopaholic mother. The only place where she feels secure is on the basketball court, where she is a standout player.
Finding herself trapped in a life she never wanted, Teresa begins to drink, and her erratic behaviour causes her to be suspended from the girls’ basketball team. When Angel is beaten up by other students for being gay and flees to the streets of Manhattan, she decides to take the only way out that seems to make sense.
Teresa’s difficulties build to a shattering climax on December 8, 2011 – the anniversary of John Lennon’s death – when she and Angel make a pilgrimage to the Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park. There, something terrible that she could never have predicted turns her back toward life and love…
With fierce irreverence, black humour and piercing insight, Zimler traces Teresa’s desperate and moving journey toward herself, painting – along the way – a compassionate portrait of immigrants lost in contemporary America.
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