Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.
Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.
Using the rarely seen second person point of view, Marr addresses both the reader and the protagonist in a tale of identity, belonging, social exclusion, cultural diversity and adaptation. This challenges the reader and makes the protagonist’s emotions and fears direct and personal. The subtle magic of both the house and the glasshouse serves as an extension of the protagonist’s emotions and provide her with hope. The story asks the reader to look beyond tragic and difficult events to a resilience that enables one to dream and addresses cultural biases, customs and expectations.