Blog tour: ‘When Shadows Fall,’ by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Natalie Sirett.

Today I’m kicking off the blog tour for a brand new title by award-winning novelist Sita Brahmachari. ‘When Shadows Fall’ pis a powerful exploration of grief, exclusion, and friendship for teen readers told in prose and free verse. There are also stunning illustrated pages and sections throughout which echo the story’s theme of the therapeutic power of art.

I was lucky enough to be able to pose some questions to Sita about the importance of green spaces in this story. Make sure you take time to read her answers.

‘Kai, Orla and Zak grew up together, their days spent on the patch of wilderness in between their homes, a small green space in a sprawling grey city. Music, laughter and friendship bind them together and they have big plans for their future – until Kai’s family suffers a huge loss.

Trying to cope with his own grief, as well as watching it tear his family apart, Kai is drawn into a new and more dangerous crowd, until his dreams for the future are a distant memory. Excluded from school and retreating from his loved ones, it seems as though his path is set, his story foretold. Orla, Zak and new classmate Om are determined to help him find his way back. But are they too late?’

This absorbing story explores just how quickly things can start to unravel and fall apart following a traumatic experience, and how powerful real friendships can be through the good times and the bad. There are some hard-hitting themes in this story: loss of a sibling, refugees, attempted suicide, mental health, drugs, gangs. So I wouldn’t recommended this for anyone below the age of thirteen.

Kai and his friend’s special hideout – The Bothy – feature heavily as do Kai’s beloved ravens. ‘When Shadows Fall’ promotes the healing power of wild places and animals. I was invited to ask Sita some questions regarding the importance of green spaces:

1. In this book, your characters grew up together and spent a lot of time in the wilderness between their estates. Was this space inspired by any of your own childhood playgrounds?

I grew up in many different places but The Lake District was my peace, my mental health, and my open spaces, and my imagination, and my dreaming space. When I moved to the city, I was surprised that they did have green spaces and I learned how precious those green spaces were, and like in the story, I would fight very hard for those green spaces for the children. Particularly the most disenfranchised children.

2. Why do you think it’s important to protect green spaces in and around cities?

One of the magic wands I was was able to use in the story was to give those children their piece of Rec and they are not going to lose that piece of Rec (recreation ground.) It’s happening all over London. It’s really, really important because this is the ground where they’re rooted. This is the land where they’ve marked their tree of their loss and have the opportunity to regenerate and regrow.

I think my empathy is that the children in the city are not given space to breathe. It’s something that really has my heart. I know what it’s like to go out for the day collecting wild flowers, be chased by a bullock, then come back home having had an adventure. There’s always a bit of me that wants to give my children and young people a bit of that.

Ultimately, despite its handling of some gritty themes, ‘When Shadows Fall’ is a story of hope. It begins with Kai after the events of the story have happened, telling us that he has the pen and he is the one telling the story. He has the power.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Little Tiger Press for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*

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