Smart by Kim Slater

‘I found Jean’s friend dead in the river. His name was Colin Kirk. He was a homeless man, but he still wanted to live.’

Kieron has discovered a body in the river. The body of a man Kieron thinks has been murdered, but the police won’t listen, why would they after all Colin was a homeless man, no one will miss him, no one will care.

Kieron cares, and he promises to find out what really happened.

Kieron lives with his mother and abusive stepfather and stepbrother. He’s an outcast at school, rejected by everyone except his teaching assistant. Bullied by his peers for being ‘different’.

While Slater doesn’t come right out and say it, she does give the reader clues that Kieron is different, the kids at school ask if he has Downs Syndrome, he has his own teaching assistant and he views the world and social situations very differently to most people, my guess is that Kieron is autistic.

As Kieron embarks on his quest to discover what happened to Colin, we learn more about Kieron’s world, that he loves to draw and is exceptional at it, citing Lowery as his favourite artist and putting his artistic skills to the test by sketching everything around him incase there’s a clue in there somewhere. I love the way he describes everything around him picking up on things other people wouldn’t describing things in such detail – and as an ex dragon boater myself I loved his description of the crew on the river.

We discover that Kieron has a grandmother that he misses and who stopped visiting because she didn’t agree with his stepdad hitting him and his mother.

Kieron’s world is very black and white.
And Slater has used this to highlight abuse, homelessness, and how not everyone views the world the same.
I loved taking this journey with Kieron as he befriended people from the homeless shelter to try to catch Colin’s Killer. I loved Jeans character and liked that Slater had written about homeless people in a good light, using Jean to show that everyone has a story and that sometimes people just need a little help, Slaters slick writing style discusses these issues without ever sounding didactic, leaving the reader reconsidering the way they look at the world.

I really enjoyed this book and will most definitely be recommending it to others…. Are you going to be Smart enough to read it ?? I hope so!

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Dead Ends by Erin Lange

Two boys. One a bully. One with Downs Syndrome.

Two boys searching for answers about their fathers.

One atlas full of clues. One unlikely friendship. One beautifully woven tale of how even the most unlikely of people become friends and the loyalty that can bring.

Billy D or ‘special ed’ as the mean kids call him is new to the area and not settling in too well, scared to walk to school alone because of the bullies.

Dane Washington – resident bully,angry at the world and takes it out on anyone who ‘has it coming’.

Billy D sees that the other kids at school are frightened of Dane so decides that if Dane walks him to school the bullies will stay away.

Facing expulsion Dane is forced to look out for Billy D in order to stay in school. What starts out as a hindrance for Dane, soon begins to develop into the most unlikely of friendships which takes the boys on the journey to track down Billy’s dad, only Billy has been keeping a secret he shouldn’t have.

Lange weaves such a beautifully crafted tale, the bully is, to some degree still a bully when it’s all over but he’s a bully you root for.
And Billy D is a character I defy anyone not to fall In love with, he’s smart and funny and an expert blackmailer.

This pulled on all my heart strings and while I didn’t quite get the ending I had hoped for, it was in fairness how it had to be.

For anyone who’s not read either of Langes books – get yourself to your local bookstore and fix that immediately.

Erin will be in Newcastle at Seven Stories on April 2nd 2014 click the link below to buy tickets!!!

http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/whats-on/events/119205/author-event-dead-ends-with-erin-lange

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

‘What happens in the woods, stays in the woods’

Carey and Janessa have been raised in the forest, now they have been abandoned there by their mother a woman who has badly neglected both girls for years.

Carey has basically raised her little sister by herself, teaching her to read and write and making sure she was fed and watered but now down to their last can of beans and running low on fuel it’s been months since they last saw their mother,Carey is beginning to worry about how they will survive.

Then something happens to change their lives forever – two strangers enter the forest and take the girls back to safety. However the forest has left it’s mark on both girls and Carey is hiding something so big it threatens to destroy any chance she had at a happy ever after.

This book is about loyalty, friendship and family, and about overcoming your inner demons.

I’ve read this book 3 times now and could easily read it a few more.

It’s powerful and emotive storyline kept me hooked from the first page to the last page and I read it in one sitting each time.
I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character as much as I did for Carey.

This book is a must read if you’ve never read a YA title before then this is the one to start with.

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