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Jo McMillan grew up in the UK and has lived and worked in China and Malaysia. She is currently based in Berlin. Motherland is her first novel.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit meets Goodbye Lenin. 'I hadn't expected the Berlin Wall to be clean and white and smooth. It looked more like the edge of the swimming baths than the edge of the Cold War. On the grass of No-man's Land, fat rabbits ate and strolled about as if they'd never been hunted and nothing could disturb them. This was their land and they ruled it, and there were three parts to Berlin: East, West and Rabbit.' It is 1978, Jess is thirteen and she already has a reputation - as the daughter of the only communist in town. But then, it's in the blood. The Mitchells have been in the Party since the Party began. Jess and her mother Eleanor struggle to sell socialism to Tamworth - a sleepy Midlands town that just doesn't want to know. So when Eleanor is invited to spend a summer teaching in East Germany, she and Jess leap at the chance to see what the future looks like. On the other side of the Iron Curtain they turn from villains into heroes. And when Eleanor meets widower Peter and his daughter, Martina, a new, more peaceful life seems possible. But the Cold War has no time for love and soon the trouble starts. Peter is dispatched for two years of solidarity work in Laos. Friends become enemies, and Jess discovers how easy it is to switch sides, and how sides can be switched for you, sometimes without you even knowing. Motherland is a tender mother-daughter story and a tragi-comic portrait of a childhood overcome with belief. It's about loss of faith and loss of innocence, and what it's like to grow up on the losing side of history.