Thursday, July 19, 2012

Step Back in Time

The Night Sky in My Head

I've just finished reading a novel for teens, the d├ębut of my very good friend Sarah Hammond. It's a long time since I read a book for that age-group (not since I was a teenager myself, in fact), but The Night Sky in My Head (OUP, 2012) is very impressive: tightly paced, wonderfully imagined and emotionally engaging.

Sarah has made the brave choice of telling her story from the point of view of a 14-year-old with learning difficulties, and some dark themes are tackled. It's a testament to her skill and compassion that she never patronises her hero (and certainly not her readers) while dealing delicately with love, loss, betrayal and the challenges of growing up. The book also has strong magical realist elements, as Mikey, the protagonist, has the special ability to see back in time; an ability which he uses to piece together the mystery surrounding his father's imprisonment and the murder of another man.

I don't know much about contemporary fiction for young people, but I can't help but mention this here for those who may be looking for a brilliant summer read for someone of this age. The story has a real summertime feel to it, too.

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