Monday, 23 September 2019

Blog Tour: A Map of the Sky by Claire Wong (Contemporary, 10/10E)

September 20th 2019, Lion Hudson, 240 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from press release 
Kit doesn’t understand why his family has been uprooted to a remote coastal village in the North. Why did they leave so suddenly, and why has his Dad not joined them?

At Askfeld Farm Guesthouse he meets an eclectic group of new neighbours and forms an unlikely friendship with Beth, who suffers from a chronic illness he does not understand. Kit learns that Beth, who cannot leave the guesthouse, is trying to draw a map from memory that shows all her favourite childhood haunts. Kit makes it his quest to help her remember by visiting places for her and hopes to solve the problems of the other guests along the way. But becoming a hero like the ones in his favourite books is trickier than it seems, especially when Kit has failed to grasp so much of what is happening around him...
Can Kit work out that the person who really needs his help is much closer to home?

Nayu's thoughts
It wasn't actually Kit's adventures which intrigued me enough to read this novel for review, but Beth because she has a chronic illness. I have a permanent chronic illness so find any inclusion in novels has me intrigued. I like to know if that particular storyline feels accurate and real. Beth felt extremely real! I loved her interactions with Kit, how her illness was shown on her rubbish feeling days, how what she could do and say changed on how she felt. It couldn't have been written any better. I kept hoping she would have a good day, and I wanted to know exactly what she suffered from, but if memory serves correctly it never got a name.

Because of Beth I grew to love Kit, his mum and sister. I was convinced it was his mother who had the problem, that it wasn't a high drama reason that Kit thought of for why they had moved so suddenly, but was because his mum was sick or something. The truth which Beth had hinted at was a shock to me, although it then made sense and I berated myself for not thinking about it sooner. I was so wrapped up in Beth's story I forgot what Kit's main mystery was.

It was hard for Kit to suddenly move, to have no friends around and to have a mother still busy so he had to entertain himself. He finds a kindred spirit in Beth, they both love adventure, and she gives wise advise that didn't always make sense until later in the story. Kit has a kind heart, and by exploring for Beth he was kept quite busy, at times perhaps too busy to see what was in front of his eyes. The guests he helps are truly great characters, not always good but Kit with his mix of good intentions, moments of insight, and the exuberance of childhood helps the guests have a happy ending of their own. You will need tissues for one of them. I understood his frustration when the adults witheld information from him, I had the same feeling when I was younger.

I love learning about guest houses/hotels, and I got to learn a fair bit from this book. I truly feel there is something for every reader to like about the book, regardless of which character you love the most (Beth) or hated (Kit's father for not being around to help his mother). Kit's sister was intriguing, I hated how fixated she was on work and being top of the class. I have been in her shoes and I totally burnt out because of it and had to suspend my university degree because of it. I wanted her to lighten up, to relax and appreciate the beauty of where she currently lived, as Kit did with his exploration. The end is heartwarming and I have high hopes for her future self esteem. This is definitely one for the reread shelf, and Claire knows I want a sequel! Whether one will happen is a different matter, but I am hopeful.

Find out more on Claire's website and follow her on Twitter.

Suggested read
 For a family based novel full of unexpected twists check out The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse, narrated by Amanda Prowse (Contemporary, Audiobook, 10E/10E)

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