Themes: seeking the truth, memories, mistakes, injustice,
Content: constant tension, murder, unpleasant scenes, some violence, tissue needed
Summary from Simon and Schuster
At four years old, Leah Martens was the only witness to the murder of two women in a London park. Now, twelve years later, as the man imprisoned for the murders walks free, Leah desperately tries to remember exactly what she saw that day. But she’s not the only person whose life was scarred forever in that park and whose past now threatens to decide the future.
Two boys are also sucked into the treacherous investigation around the murders… Fourteen- year-old Charlie, who is plotting revenge with a ruthless man, and the enigmatic Linden, who befriends Leah all the while concealing his shameful past and leading her further into danger…
Slightly unusual for a review I'm starting with the negatives. I was a bit disappointed that Leah's point of view didn't get as much page time as I'd expected, not compared to the others. It made me a slightly grouchy reader, as its so much easier to relate to and understand female point of views. However, I think I kind of see why page time was weighted more heavily for Charlie and Linden. Leah may not have been always on the pages, but her past, present, and indeed her future were more tied up in those boys lives than they knew for a good long while.
The constant twists and turns the story took kept my grouchy-ness to a minimum. Just as soon as I'd had a revelation for one character, the next chapter would be for a different character! I both love and hate those kinds of reads. They work brilliantly and certainly keep me reading. The only other negative which is partially a positive is the fact I worked out who did it early on. That's a great achievement for me because often I have no idea who the culprit is for these kinds of books. I like to think that I understood the hints and have read enough thrillers to make an accurate guess, rather than the fact it was easy to work it out. But, even if that were the case it doesn't matter - I still had chills watching Leah get put in more danger (ok, and the boys too. I just focused more on Leah!) I have to say that Cate's book is along the lines of Sophie McKenzie's reads (Like Split Second, Young Adult, 10/10E)
Find out more on Cate's website.
I had to mention Sophie's book because it has a similar feel to Splintered Light. However, the book which I instantly thought of while reading Splintered Light is Looking For JJ by another amazing author, Anne Cassidy (Young Adult, 10E/10E)
How We Talk About Girls by Cate Sampson
Nayu here! Cate's post will be up in a few lines from now (which technically is down, not up!) As part of the blog tour for Splintered Light Cate speaks about how girls are viewed, which is a necessary topic seeing as Splintered Light features a girl (although not as much as I'd hoped...) Thanks Cate for writing such a good read (even with the less than ideal Leah page time) & for stopping by on your blog tour to NRC!
I am writing this by way of a Mea Culpa. I realise I have sinned. It all started this week, when I saw a news article reporting that the actress Daisy Lewis, of Downton Abbey, had told journalists that she did not want to be described as ‘feisty’ because the word was patronising towards women.
‘Have you ever heard a male character on screen described as feisty? I think not,’ she is reported to have said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Hmm, I thought grimly, she’s right. Grimly, because I remember clearly writing a blog post called ‘Top Ten Gritty Girls’ last year. I knew at the time that something didn’t sit right with the title, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Carnaby, my first Young Adult crime novel, published last year, has a teenage girl at its heart. She’s a strong person facing terrible difficulty. Splintered Light, which came out in August, is the interwoven story of three teenagers: a strong girl, a strong boy, and a much weaker boy. We need descriptive words, but they are dangerous ground, and we must walk it carefully.
‘Gritty’ isn’t as gender specific as ‘feisty’, which is a word almost always attached to the female of the species, whereas ‘gritty’ isn’t much attached to either. But the principle remains the same, and what Daisy Lewis said reminded me of something that I witnessed in the USA some years ago. There were a group of us, mature students, sitting chatting – we would like to have thought of ourselves as liberal and enlightened, I think, as a group. Not one of us would have voted UKIP, if there had been a Michigan chapter. I can’t remember the context, but I do remember the phrase ‘white trash’ passing someone’s lips. And none of us will forget our one black colleague standing abruptly and leaving in silent fury. For some time we sat open-mouthed, gaping in incomprehension, until someone figured it out. To talk about ‘white trash’ is to assume that trash is usually black. The qualifier tells the story. (Of course, using the word ‘trash’ to describe anyone of any race or gender is a whole other issue.)
To put the word ‘feisty’ before the word ‘woman’ suggests that a woman is not usually argumentative and ready to stand up for herself. To put the word ‘gritty’ in front of ‘girl’ suggests that the term ‘girl’ needs a little toughening up. Many of us who write for young women want to write stories which allow young women to be what they naturally are, to escape stereotypes. Yet when we write ‘strong women’ clearly there is a danger of perpetuating stereotypes even as we try to destroy them. By saying, look at this unusually fierce girl, we may be silently saying, ‘she’s not like other girls, who are so quiet.’
I have been living abroad for thirteen years. Coming back to live in Britain, I find myself surrounded by coded and not-so coded messages about gender in popular culture. These messages can be as toxic as the coded messages we all encounter about race. We need to learn to listen, to understand exactly what it is that we are hearing, and to question our own words.