• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 5, 2015)
Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture—a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals . . . at least in theory. But Gaialands’s strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti claims the commune’s energy needs to be healed and harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions. Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfill his dream of starting a punk rock band in London, she follows him. In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants?
The Predictions is a mesmerizing, magical novel of fate, love, mistakes, and finding your place in the world.
Buy, read, and discuss The Predictions
Bianca Zander is British-born but has lived in New Zealand for the past two decades. Her first novel, The Girl Below, was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and she is the recipient of the Creative New Zealand Louis Johnson New Writers’ Bursary and the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, recognizing her as one of New Zealand’s eminent writers. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the Auckland University of Technology.
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I was a bit trepidatious as I began reading Bianca Zander’s The Predictions, concerned that the entire novel would be pervaded by that “smells like Ren-Faire” feeling of too much patchouli and not enough common sense, as can so often happen when depicting life on a commune, but I needn’t have worried, because the main character, Poppy, leaped off the page, grabbed me by the hand, and took me with her on a journey that, ultimately wasn’t about the facts of growing up in an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, but the universal truth of finding our own definitions of ‘home’ and ‘family.’
For Poppy, both of those things are tied up in people – her younger brother Fred, who has a clubfoot, her mother Elisabeth who, like all adult members of the Gaialands commune, is referred to by her first name, and keeps her motherhood status ambiguous (though we all know Poppy is her daughter.) And then there’s Lukas, fellow commune kid turned rock musician, who is the catalyst for much of the change in Poppy’s life, as well as the anchor that keeps her entirely herself.
Mix in an earthy American hippie fortune teller (Shakti), a decent amount of globetrotting (New Zealand isn’t really a rock mecca) and a lot of growing up (we meet Poppy as an adolescent on the brink of adulthood) and you have The Predictions, an engaging, fast-paced story of love, loss, music, culture, home, family, and how we must all find our own versions of each.
Bonus points for author Zander’s use of language. All of the characters sound appropriate to the period (mid-70’s through 1989) and age-appropriate as well. Double bonus points for having Lukas utter one of my all-time favorite snarky phrases: “Perish the thought.”
I predict that you will find The Predictions interesting and engaging.
No patchouli required.
Goes well with: falafel made from organically grown chick peas, jicama sticks, and beet slaw.
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