Once in a while a book comes along that completely moves me and I know that it will stay with me a long time, ‘A Kind of Spark,’ by Elle McNicoll is one of these. This thoughtful debut features Addie who is autistic and is struggling to navigate the world around her more so than normal since her sister Keedie – who is also autistic- has gone to college. When her teachers introduces a new topic: Withcraft, she learns of real life ‘witches,’ who were targeted and executed and feels an affinity with these women who were different and misunderstood. Desperate for her town to recognise this wrong doing she campaigns for a memorial but is met from opposition in all quarters. Can Addie win them over and find a way to create a space where she can find peace too?
You feel Addie’s feelings and experiences so viscerally through this book. At times it is painful and raw to read as she faces the torment of her terrible teacher and others who don’t even try to understand what life is like from her. The reader is invited to see the world through Addie’s eyes, allowing them to have true empathy for how sometimes even the most smallest and seemingly insignificant thing can be completely unbearable. There’s a real sadness to this story as Addie comes to realise her sister Keedie is masking who she really is from her new friends. The toll this takes on her is incredibly heart-breaking. I loved how Addie sees that these women have been dealt a terrible fate and can relate to how suspicious other people can be of those who are different in any way. She uses her passion and enthusiasm and channels it into something extraordinary. This is a book that needs to be in every primary and secondary school library. It’s not only important that children see their lives reflected in books but that we create a culture of empathy and understanding. A truly stunning debut, I absolutely loved it!
Elle McNicoll is a children’s author from Scotland, now living in East London. As a neurodivergent writer, she is passionate about disability rights and representation. She was inspired to finish A Kind of Spark after her Masters research revealed that only 0.05% of protagonists in children’s books are neurodivergent. When she isn’t writing fiction, Elle assists as a mentor for neurodivergent students at UCL, works as an editor and in her spare time, makes colourful chokers for friends to wear. A Kind of Spark is her first novel.
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Thank you to Knights Of and Ed PR for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted proof copy of this wonderful book. ‘A Kind of Spark is released on the 4th June,’ and is available to pre-order now online or from your local bookshop.