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An unforgettable story of loss and a vulnerable disaffected life redeemed by the power of friendship, creativity and nature
This impactful tale is beautifully crafted from a variety of viewpoints, written in a mixture of prose, narrative verse and journal entries, woven together with evocative illustrations by Natalie Sirett. While it is Kai’s story and his fall into darkness that is at the heart of the story, we also hear the voices of Orla, from the high-rise flats like Kai, and Zak from the big houses across the other side of the wilderness. This is the place where they spent most of their out of school time growing up and where they discovered and restored the bothy, which becomes the dramatic backdrop to astounding creativity but also danger, degradation, despair and near death. We later hear from new arrival Omid who has faced trauma and loss himself, which helps him make the connection with Kai, whose family has fallen apart following the loss of his beloved baby sister Sula. Despite the best efforts of his friends, Kai falls in with a dangerous crowd, gets excluded and his self-destruction seems inevitable. But the bonds forged in their childhood ultimately prove stronger. Kai’s deep connection to nature and in particular to a pair of ravens, who have their own narration, and the creativity which is sparked by Omid’s inspiring art, help to bring him home.
There are so many important themes in this multi-layered novel which speaks so powerfully about the importance of urban green spaces and community and the way society can fail to recognise the true value of things. This highly original novel perfectly captures raw adolescent emotions and fills the reader with empathy and understanding. Highly recommended.
Kai, Orla and Zak grew up together, their days spent on the patch of wilderness in between their homes, a small green space in a sprawling grey city. Music, laughter and friendship bind them together and they have big plans for their future – until Kai’s family suffers a huge loss.
Trying to cope with his own grief, as well as watching it tear his family apart, Kai is drawn into a new and more dangerous crowd, until his dreams for the future are a distant memory. Excluded from school and retreating from his loved ones, it seems as though his path is set, his story foretold. Orla, Zak and new classmate Om are determined to help him find his way back. But are they too late?
Praise for When Shadows Fall:
“Full of empathy and hope … Kai’s story is a must read for teens to explore how easily things can fall apart but also how we can heal.” – A. M. Dassu, author of Boy, Everywhere
“A song of growing up, grief and the power of connection, When Shadows Fall is an illuminating and lyrical read” – Polly Ho-Yen, author of Boy in the Tower
“Beautifully told with real care, tenderness and heart” – Jasbinder Bilan, author of Asha and the Spirit Bird
“Sita’s lyrical prose captures the raw emotions of adolescence – of a young person navigating their way through grief and troubled times. A book for all of us.” – Gill Lewis, author of Swan Song
“A heart-wrenching story about loss and art and nature, about how things can fall apart and how friends stand beside one another no matter what” – Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of How to Change the World
“Empathetic, original, searingly sad in places, but full of hope, & the power of friendship, art, music, wild places, and ravens” – Nicola Penfold, author of Where the World Turns Wild
“A gripping, tender, terrifying work… Impactful, innovative, and deeply moving.” – Sinéad O’Hart, author of The Eye of the North
|Publication date:||11th November 2021|
|Year Groups:||Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4|
|Topics:||Ecological and Environmental, Family / Home Stories, Gritty Reads|
Sita Brahmachari won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize with her debut Artichoke Hearts and is one of the most interesting and important voices in children's books today. Her latest novel, Tender Earth was awarded an honour by the International Board of Books for Young People. She was the 2015 Booktrust's Writer in Residence and is the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Sita is also an Amnesty International ambassador. She lives in London with her family. Photo credit Martin LevensonMore About Sita Brahmachari