Friday 9 November 2012

A Sea Of Stars, by Kate Maryon, publ. HarperCollins: reviewed by Sue Purkiss

This is one of those lovely books for young teenagers - tweenagers? - which is set by the sea, and where the setting is so vivid that you can practically hear the surf breaking on the shore. I imagine it to be in Cornwall, though I don't think the place is actually specified.

The story is told in the first person by Maya, who finds that she is to have a new sister - not a baby, but a girl only a little younger than she is. It doesn't come out of the blue; Maya has been part of her parents' decision to adopt a child. But it's one thing knowing that something's going to happen and quite another when you find it's going to happen next week...: I just froze to the spot and my tummy clenched up as if my insides had turned into this big skipping rope and someone was knotting it up all tight. A million damselflies started whirring and fluttering in my throat...

It turns out that she's right to be anxious. Like any other ten year old up for adoption, Cat has issues and a difficult back story. Maya wants a sister to love, but Cat is prickly and difficult, and as tension grows within the family, other fault lines are revealed in what seemed at first to be a happy, cohesive family unit. Maya has been the focus for her mother's anxieties for too long, and, as the even surface of her family life is disrupted, Maya decides she wants more freedom, more risk. The surf beckons...

Kate Maryon's novel deals with a lot of difficult issues, of which adoption is only one. But she does it with a lovely lightness of touch - there's a great warmth to the book. The family have decorated Cat's room beautifully for her; there's even a mural of an 'underwater sea world full of beautiful mermaids and treasure chests and silvery fish and pink shells and magic.' They are all on tenterhooks waiting to see her reaction. She smiles. Then: "I've been to places like this before," she snaps, nibbling her nail. "Some even better." But they all pick themselves up and keep trying.

A Sea Of Stars is a great story for girls who like books about families and friends, with just a sprinkling of romance for good measure!


1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

Sounds like one of those good stories where the landscape offers some of the answers and eases the difficult aspects of the relationships for the reader. So they can both enjoy and empathise - a perfect young teen book.

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