Splinters of Sunshine

Publisher: Hodder Children's

Fifteen year old Spey just received two unusual Christmas surprises. The first is a mysterious parcel full of torn-up paper flowers. The other is his dad – who's just got out of prison, and is currently sleeping on the sofa.

Spey knows that the paper flowers are a sign that his old friend Dee is in terrible danger, and he may be the only one who can save her. The only problem is that he hasn’t seen her in many years and has no idea where she could be. Together with his estranged dad Benni, Spey embarks on a road trip to find her – discovering along the way that both he, and his father, are full of more surprises than Spey first thought.

Patrice Lawrence’s gripping story is about how people fall into cycles of abuse and crime, and the understanding and kindness we need to help others break out of them. The wonderfully written Spey isn’t the perfect hero – his complex relationship with his dad has made him wary and judgmental, though over the course of the novel he starts to challenge his own preconceptions about people (as do we). Dee’s chapters are short, illustrated with the pages of her beloved flower-book, and sometimes vague – like Spey, the reader must piece together the story of what happened to her – and Benni’s chapters are written in the form of heartfelt letters to the son he didn’t get to see grow up.

The story contains instances of racism, violence, swearing, abuse, and drug use, and so may not be suitable for younger readers; but there’s so much for older readers to think about and enjoy in this powerful, moving novel about family, friendship, and finding the courage to do the right thing.

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