Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

The Light in Everything by Katya Balen

Emotional and honest, Katya Balen’s The Light in Everything is a beautiful story of the storms of life. Cleverly told from two completely different yet wonderfully similar points of view, readers are taken right into the heart of Zofia and Tom’s journey to find peace and family.

Zofia is wild and stormy. She lives life in high gear, always active, always loud. She loves her life with Dad near the sea. Underneath the waves, she is free and her truest self.

Tom is nervous and clings to the light. His past is full of darkness and fear. Life with Mum is finally beginning to feel safe, or at least settled. Gradually, they are escaping the storms of what came before.

When their parents fall in love and announce there will be a new baby, Tom and Zofia’s lives become woven together (whether they want them to or not). Do these children have room for anyone else in their lives? Terrified of change and unable to trust, they have more in common than they dare to admit. Through each character’s growth, Katya Balen explores what it means to be afraid and the power of finding healing, hope and love.

As I followed Tom and Zofia’s perspectives of their newly blended family, I considered how a child would read this book – which messages would strike them and when. Would it be having to share the attention of a beloved parent; the struggle to embrace change; the anticipation of a new baby; coping with illness and worry; the haunting of an abusive parent; the desire to achieve a dream; learning to trust; or finding hope? There is no question that this is a book for adults to read themselves before sharing with children. Teachers must know their students well and be aware of triggers that may affect them. For all readers, this is a story that will build empathy and teach them that although everyone sees things differently, we all want the same things – to be loved, accepted and to have the hope of a happy future.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children’s Book & NetgalleyUK for this powerful book!

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon or bookshop.org.

Books by Kate Heap:

Contemporary Children’s Literature: Years 3/4

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4

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