Middle grade fiction as a genre continues to blow me away. Kiran Millwood Hargrave has twice worked to reinvent the genre into lyricism, and Sarah Carroll is following hot on her footsteps with this stunning Irish debut from Simon and Schuster.
Sam and her ma are homeless, living in an abandoned mill in the heart of Dublin, their Castle, their home. After living on the streets, the dilapidated building is a safe haven for the mother and daughter.
That is, until the yellow jackets come. Are they coming to take Sam away to the Authorities or to tear down their Castle? As her mother falls deep into old addictions, Sam searches for friendships in the passers by, the Caretaker and the ghosts of the mill.
This is a truly stunning novel aimed at children that confronts the realities of homelessness, addiction and parenting in a stark, open way that never patronises the reader. Sam’s voice is sparkling and brilliant, despite the trials she has lived through.
At times I was fighting back tears and had my heart in my throat, terrified by the vicious Monkey Man and completely feeling the fear that rules Sam’s ma trickling off the page. This is an emotional and strong debut from an author I look forward to reading more from.
What to read next:
- The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
- Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen
- Maybe a Fox by Kathy Appelt and Alison McGhee
Thank you kindly to Simon and Schuster for sharing this copy with me.