Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Blog Tour: Lightning Chase Me Home by Amber Lee Dodd (Children's, 9 years +, 8/10E)

Isn't the sealion cute? I had a proof copy which didn't have the full cover image
 3rd January 2019, Scholastic, 320 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Scholastic
 A wild and wonderful tale of storms, thunder, magic and finally waking up to who you truly are. Amelia Hester McLeod is named after two fearless explorers: Amelia Earhart and Lady Hester Stanhope. But Amelia struggles to live up to her name. She doesn’t feel brave or bright, and she’s barely set foot in the world beyond her windblown island beneath the North Star. Things have been tough in her family’s creaky old house since Amelia’s mum left. Her dad is sad and silent, while her grandpa talks of strange, impossible things. But when Amelia makes a birthday wish to be reunited with her missing mum, a wild magic swirls up from the sea…

Nayu's thoughts
 Straight away I need to say this book is really a 9/10E, but I have a personal reason for dropping the grade to 8. I have a sn*ke phobia, there aren't loads of them in the book but let's just say it's a good thing I already hated camping. I stupidly didn't think what was happening in that part of the book until it happened, and got thoroughly freaked out because I have similar nightmares. It's not Amber's fault, I know why sn*kes are used in fiction, because they are atmospheric and can be symbolic, it's just unfortunate I struggle with their existence, and have a hyperactive imagination. 

Evil creatures aside, this book is epic. From the summary I'd wanted to know if Amelia found her mum (I'm not saying!), and also what life was like on a small island. I'm absolutely fascinated by island communities, they are tight knit in more than one way, which Amelia struggles with, but it's also what helps save her in the end. People who know you inside out can be there for you when you least expect, as Amelia discovers. Even those you don't like. Apart from Blair who is a nasty, spiteful child who deserved the dose of reality she got at the end, not that I'd ever encourage such an accident to happen. Those involved in that revenge had a mind of their own and they got away with the behaviour. 

Poor Amelia suffered terribly, I couldn't understand why her dyslexia wasn't identified sooner - I'm not a teacher and it was as crystal clear that's what her issues were. The power she gained on her birthday were at first fun, but then became frightening because she wanted it to envelope her even though she knew it was the wrong choice in life. It was hard to read when her father got angry with her, her sense of abandonment during that time was heartbreaking: her father was in her life, unlike her mother, but he was as out of reach as she was to Amelia. The worst of it was she was telling the truth, which was extraordinary and unless someone saw what happened - and a few did, they wouldn't believe her at all. 

Amelia found a firm friend in Tom, although events transpired that meant she received the same treatment from Tom that she did with her father, which was yet more heartbreak. Yes I needed a tissue from time to time, all Amelia wanted was love and understanding and she didn't always get it when she needed it the most. 

Returning to the island theme I liked how the mystery was heavily influenced by the weather and the sea: it fits in because island communities can have rituals and sayings about such issues to explain them. This next part is random: when I heard about the birthday ritual, I instantly thought of a game I'm currently playing, Dragon Quest 11 (Not to be confused with Dragon Quest Builders 2 which I'm also playing). If you don't want to read a spoiler skip to the next paragraph.  In DQ11 the protagonist, on a certain birthday climbs to the top of a mini mountain (a tor) and I think touches the top. An incident happens and the protagonist (who I pretend is a girl, even though it's a guy because he does look a bit like a girl if you squint your eyes, and I prefer to play as a girl) has their latent power appear. I haven't finished the game so I don't know if the power gets used for good, but I know it brings worse trouble than Amelia endures because his (her) village is razed to the ground. Didn't see that one coming! 

I like Amelia's tale because it examines so many issues. It deals with child abandonment, dementia, not fitting in, bullying, dyslexia, and others that have slipped my mind. I was hooked by every page as the story unfolded, in spite of the sn*kes, which provided a lovely few hours read. More than that, I absolutely loved how Amelia's passion is explorers, because I've recently read a few books (in suggested reads) which include the women who Amelia looks up to! I think I will reread it in time, but that won't be for a long while as it's quite an emotional tale, and I tend to prefer happier reads. It does have a happy ending, but what Amelia goes through to reach that happiness is hard hitting. 

Find out more on Amber's website.  

Suggested read

And more about other strong women throughout history in Rad Girls Can by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (Non-fiction, 10E/10E)

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