In this ambitious and passionate novel, Sita Brahmachari charts the course of the friendship of four London teenagers. Kai is the main focus of the novel. His desperation and grief at his sister’s death and his father’s depression result in behaviour that gets him excluded from school and involved in drug taking and petty crime. Orla and Zak are his childhood friends who find themselves estranged from Kai when he needs them most; and Om is a Syrian refugee who recognises Kai’s pain and reaches out to him. We first meet all four at what will be their happy ending as Kai begins to write his story down and to take the reader back through his traumatic last few years. The story is taken up at intervals by Orla and Om, who provide their own points of view. They are joined, in Kai’s disorientation, by the voices of two ravens that have adopted him. Despite the early reassurance given to the reader that everything will come right in the end, Brahmachari writes so convincingly as Kai, interspersing her prose with free verse for the most dramatic and reflective moments, that we are drawn right into the shadows of his mind. Natalie Sirett’s black and white illustrations are an integral part of the book. They are often paragraph dividers in the shape of a black feather. Otherwise, they appear at the corner of pages or as watermarks, moving into the centre of the page as Kai reaches his lowest point. They support and develop the book’s themes, particularly Brahmachari’s conviction that self-expression, in Kai’s writing or Om’s drawing, are ways to understanding, healing and liberation. Little Tiger have done the author and illustrator proud, in design and production. There are developments in the novel I did not find quite so convincing. The campaign to defend the local recreation ground, and the final revelation that seems likely to save the rec, seems to belong to a different novel. But the way in which passion, poetry, prose and illustration work together is marvellous.
https://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/web-When-Shadows-Fall.jpg 254 200 Andrea Reece http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Andrea Reece2022-01-20 08:00:282022-01-20 09:30:43When Shadows Fall
Illustrator: Natalie Sirett