Em Norry chooses an intensely poetic, lyrical, vivid novel by David Almond.
What a difficult question! But, if I had to choose one book that altered how I thought about children’s fiction, then I choose the first David Almond book I read: A Song for Ella Grey. David’s writing is always exquisite, but this is intensely poetic, lyrical, vivid, mysterious, and slightly confusing – exactly how it felt being a teenager. It’s beautifully romantic without being sentimental too. It’s a modern retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. A story which hooked me as a child, even though I didn’t quite ‘get it’. A bereaved musician travels to the underworld to revive his dead wife but loses her again – I remember literally yelling out loud, ‘Don’t look back!’ It’s about the importance of trust, a vital theme. I can’t articulate how gorgeous this book is without quoting. ‘You’ve got all these weird forces in you, but you feel unsatisfied, empty, unfinished. You feel like everything that matters is a million miles and a million years away, and yes it might come to you but no it bliddy mightn’t. It’ll be like an unreachable constellation of the stars. And nothing will happen, ever. And you’ll never be anything, ever.’
Em Norry’s latest book, Amber Undercover, is published by Oxford Children’s Books, 978-0192774736, £6.99 pbk.
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond is published by Hodder Children’s Books, 978-1444922134, £7.99 pbk.