I am a huge fan of Cath’s debut novel, ‘Ella on the Outside,’ so was very excited to receive a proof copy of her latest title, ‘Not My Fault,’ and hoped that it would be as carefully observed as the first. I wasn’t disappointed.
Maya and Rose are sisters, but they won’t talk to each other since the accident which left Maya with a leg full of metal pins to hold the bone together.
But now they’re heading off on the ‘School Journey’ – a week long adventure full of team-bonding, exploration and exciting activities. Rose is worried because Maya’s behaviour is getting more and more out-of-control and Rose doesn’t know what to do about it. Will this trip help mend their shattered bond on will it drive a wedge even further between them?
You can tell that Howe is a teacher and a parent of daughters. She has brilliantly captured the very powerful and all-consuming love-hate relationship that siblings can have, and builds a cast of very believable characters around the two silently warring sisters.
She has also brilliantly captured the mix of excitement and fear felt by children as they head away from home, often for the first time, and into the unknown world of the school residential trip. As a mum with a son who is soon to go on his, it was interesting to observe how the children reacted to the different scenarios they found themselves in. I shall be encouraging #BookBoy to read this before he goes away!
At the very heart of the story, underneath all the bitterness and fighting, are two sisters, both traumatised by the accident they were part of – as a witness and as the casualty.
Having Maya and Rose as dual narrators works fantastically as the reader gets to explore the same events from two different perspectives and learn a valuable lesson about how perspective and viewpoint can influence a person’s version of events. It also raises questions as to what’s the main cause of strife between the sisters – the accident itself or the guilt and anger felt as a result.
Brilliant writing by Cath Howe who is carving a niche for herself as one of the go-to writers for and about children at that tricky ‘tween’ age – not quite a child, not quite an adult. She perfectly captures the humour, complex relationships and whirl of emotions experienced by children at that pivotal transitional age. I can’t wait to see what she does next!
*Many thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me this title to review*