Published in 2009 by Canongate
Challenge - What's In a Name challenge and Young Adult Challenge.
I fly in my sleep every night. When I was little I could fly without being asleep; now I can't, even though I practise and practise. And after what I saw last night I want more than ever to fly wide- awake. Mam always says: I want never gets. Is that true?
This is the story of young Gwenni Morgan who believes she has the gift of flight. The book looks at the world from her perspective throughout. She is very intelligent, but most people thinks she little odd. She loves detective stories and is always curious as the world around her. When a neighbour disappears, Gwenni takes on the role of detective in order to help solve his disappearance. As she pursues the truth, upsetting people with her questions, she brings to light a lot of dark family truths that perhaps should have stayed buried.
This is a delightful story showing the world through a child's eyes on the brink of coming of age. Gwenni is a lovely character who has to cope with a mother who is on the verge on a nervous breakdown. She has to learn a lot of home truths fast which really change the world she lives in.
The book is set in the 1950's in a little Welsh town on the brink of change. The families still cook on fire rather than a normal oven, no central heating or indoor bathrooms have reached the town yet. There is a reluctant air within the town to move into the modern age. The community they live in, is very close knit and everyone knows everyone else's business. All except Gwenni and her sister, who have to face a lot of hidden truths as the book progresses.
Secret by secret they all crawl out of the woodwork, sending Gwenni's mother completely over the top. She is a woman, who has always tried to keep a lid on her secrets, but her pot has just boiled over.
I did enjoy this book and it reminded me a little of my childhood; not the setting, as I can assure I wasn't around in the 50's, but instead the way family secrets come out by accident and you end up finding out things you are really not supposed to know. Every family has it's own dirty laundry that somehow gets exposed at times.
For a debut novel, I thought it was very well written, I fell in love with Gwenni right from the start and I wanted to cocoon her from her mother's wrath. She is full of spirit and insight into the world around you. She won't take no for an answer and pursues the truth, without fear.
The only part I didn't quite get, was the business of Gwenni flying. I never really understood whether or not she could actually fly, or was it all in her day dreaming. I never really saw the purpose of it either, within the book. I wonder if it was just added to give Gwenni' a bit of quirkiness.
This is definitely a charming book about coming of age and family life and definitely worth a read. There is definitely a little magic hidden within the pages of the book that needs to be let out to sparkle in it's own right.