*** You can win three copies right here on my blog ! ***
All I can say is wow ! It's very rare for a kids' book to have the power to make me read on way past my bedtime but that's exactly what happened with A Year Without Autumn, which I found totally unputdownable and cracked through in two days !
I actually plucked it from my "to be reviewed" shelf with a little grin as I read the title because it seemed perfect timing with the return of summer and the mini-heatwave in October ! As I read the blurb on the back of the book, it became clear that Autumn is not in fact the season but the vivacious, fun-loving, exuberant best friend of Jenni. Or at least she is at the start of the book, when the pair embark on their annual summer holiday.
After taking a dilapidated old lift in the hotel complex, Jenni suddenly realises that by going up a floor, she's also gone forward a year in her life. And what a difference a year makes. A terrible accident has befallen her friend's family and it's taken its toll on her own family as well as Autumn's. As it slowly dawns on Jenni what has happened, she desperately has to try to find a way to get back to the present to stop it all happening by taking the lift down rather than up, but the lift has mysteriously disappeared.
By turns heartwarming and tragically poignant, Liz Kessler perfectly evokes the carefree happiness of teenage friendship but also the heartbreak of watching those friendships and family relationships disintegrating. By showing how important friends and family, even annoying little brothers, are, and bringing in the subplot of the romantic "one that got away", the author really hits home the message of counting your blessings and really appreciating the important people in your life.
The time-warp lift aside, it's a very realistic, poignant book that will give the reader plenty of food for thought, whatever their age. It's a simple read so I'll now be passing this on to 10-year-old Sophie for her to enjoy, before giving it to my 50-something bookworm friend. This just goes to show how broad the appeal is, as I know they'll both love it.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £6.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Orion Childrens (1 Sep 2011)
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