1st January, 2019 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Review: Sal by Mick Kitson - Canongate Books

This book was my last read of 2018 and boy, what a great story to finish the year with! This is the tale of Sal and Peppa, two sisters who hide and live in the Scottish woods in order to flee from their old life. Sal is the victim of her mum's molester boyfriend and she had planned their escape for months before setting off. Oh, and before committing a serious crime for which she has to fear dire consequences. 

Sal is a highly atmospheric tale of growing up, of standing up for yourself, of sisterhood and belonging and of the powerful magic and beauty of nature. Kitson's descriptions of landscape and its healing and nurturing powers are mesmerising and at times it feels like you're reading a passage from Thoreau's Walden. Sal and Peppa are such strong characters and I was rooting for them throughout the entire story. They are highly ambivalent, especially Sal, but that's exactly what made them so interesting. Sometimes you forget that they are only ten and thirteen years old because they come across as very grown-up. Until the reader gets confronted with some of their very naive thinking again, that is. I particularly liked that clever mixture of maturity and childishness. 

The pace of the story-telling is mostly very even-paced and evokes tranquility, while other passages can read like scenes from a thriller. Some events seemed weirdly, almost endearingly far-fetched but were simultaneously so excilarating that you easily suspend disbelief and forget to worry about plausability for a little while. 

One thing that bothered me a little were the numerous unnecessary repetitions. Yes, we get that Ingrid obviously likes to wear bright red lipstick and the story of the Nachthexen appears at least twice. Here, the book would have benefited from a little stricter editing. However, this is just a minor fault and the positive aspects definitely outweigh the negative. I loved this book and while I wanted to know how it ends, I was sad to say good-bye to the characters once I finished their story. 

Sal is a wonderful study of society and of how escaping from it alters people's perception of life. It has a strong focus on landscape and on what it means to be a family. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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