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Lost For Words by Aoife Walsh

Lost for Words

Lost for Words by Aoife Walsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have such a lot of time for what Aoife Walsh does, and so when I was offered a review copy of Lost For Words I leapt at the chance. Every now and then I still think about the messy, wonderful, loving and truthful families she writes (take a look at Too Close To Home for a lovely example of this) and so I couldn’t wait to read her new title. So I did, and reader? It’s lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Dallas Kelly lives in chaotic circumstances; her family are dealing with a close bereavement, a complicated living situation, there are mean girls at school, and now the local library is closing. I was talking with somebody the other week about the tendency for girls in children’s books to adore reading and the rare delight it was to find a character who wasn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth. Dallas decides to save the library for everyone who uses it – and that’s such a delightful, potent, perfect thing. Yes she reads, and loves it, but she’s not “books, books, rah, rah, rah.” She’s doing this for the people she loves and lives with.

But then again, people is what Walsh is all about. Ruby and Aiza, Dallas’ best friends, are adorable and Aiza might secretly be one of the best characters I have read for years. Dallas’ family are messy, lovable and real. They make mistakes. They grow. They live. They learn. I suspect I’m channelling one of the 90s pop songs I seem to have on repeat on Youtube at the moment, but you get the point. These are people and this is a moment in their lives. Honest. Truthful. Lived. Loved.

This is classic children’s literature, fat with heart and rich with emotion, and I love it.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.






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Too Close to Home : Aoife Walsh

Too Close to HomeToo Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I described this on Twitter as one for the ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ crowd. And it is; it’s a book full of complicated and complex and Casson-esque characters, all of them bumping against each other in their complicated and complex lives. Too Close To Home isn’t really about much on the surface (except, in a way, it’s about everything and perhaps that surface stillness is so very metaphorical for the book itself) but underneath it’s peddling away like mad. There’s Minny; central character (and oh I am full of semi-colons and punctuation in this review, but that’s this book – thoughts and movements and emotions and people all jumbling against each other and trying to find their space in life).

So. In an attempt to be precise:

1. Walsh’s prose is very classic in tone. It’s like eating a big authorial cake (stay with me) and finding it full of Streatfeild and McKay and Smith, and it takes a moment to sink in and when it does, you don’t want to let it go. It’s rich, vivid and rather timeless. Contemporary yet classic. Classic yet contemporary. That sort of thing.

2. It is a sympathetic and genuine book. It speaks of complex issues and does so in a way that is neither didactic nor “here is the issue and now you should pay attention.” In a way, it reminded me of the Susie Day ‘Pea’ series (it’s sort of a textual elder sister to Pea) which is a very huge thing for me. (I love the Pea books, they are beautiful and smart things and now I’m creating a family tree of books and need to move on).

3. If you are into the Chalet School series, there is a moment on p77 which will make you understand this book and everything that it is saying about the world.

4. Too Close to Home is out in July. This is an early review. I debated whether to write it now or to save it for a while. And, as you can see, I wrote it now. This is because sometimes books leave you feeling full of them and in love with everything that they are and wanting to share that and wanting to talk about it all now. It is such a lovely book this, wise and smart and funny and sarcastic and joyful, and it should not fly under the radar. Save the date.

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