North of Nowhere Paperback – 24 Mar 2015
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Kessler nicely captures Mia's teen relationship with her mom and the thawing of her cool relationship with Gran. The storm that topples Luffsands' homes into the sea resonates with today's natural-disaster news.
--Publishers Weekly Kessler, best known for the Emily Windsnap series, creates a number of sympathetic characters and a vivid sense of place in this unusual novel.
--Booklist Online The eventual revelation of Grandad's secret is a rather delightful headscratcher that will have readers revisiting various plot points to see just exactly how the puzzle pieces all fit together. ... [R]eaders who enjoyed the mind-bending twists in [Rebecca Stead's "When You Reach Me"] may appreciate the shifts in the space-time continuum here.
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books A thought-provoking adventure.
--School Library Journal
About the Author
Liz Kessler is the author of the best-selling Emily Windsnap series, the Philippa Fisher series, the novel A Year Without Autumn, and more recently, the early reader Poppy the Pirate Dog. Liz Kessler lives in England.
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The book deals with Mia who goes with her parents to her grandmother aid when her grandpa mysteriously disappears. With no friends in the small fishing village Mia can't help herself when she comes across a diary aboard a fishing boat and read about a girl much like herself. Though Dee is upset about someone having read her diary they soon become diary pen pals but never seem to have the luck of getting together. When a tourist name Peter and his parents come to the village Peter offers to help and disappears. Mia and Peter's sister Sal begins investigating Peter's disappearance and what they discovers baffled their minds.
Mia, the protagonist, had my sympathy from the start. After looking forward to her half term break, she finds at the last minute that they have to spend it at her grandparents' pub in an isolated coastal town (without even a mobile signal, never mind the internet!), as her beloved grandad has gone missing. Her struggles to be supportive to her mum and her difficult grandma, despite her disappointment and boredom, are entirely convincing and will enable readers in the target age group to easily connect with her.
The story is largely told in Mia's lively voice, in the past tense. The opening passage, telling us that what will follow is unbelievable and yet true, works to pique our curiosity and prepare us for the fantasy element. She shares the narration with Frank, whose occasional chapters mean that we are aware of what is happening (or at least that something unusual is happening) before Mia. A third narrative voice is also present, as Mia finds and reads the diary of a girl who signs herself "D".
Plotwise, this novel is tight and skillful. While we may, as readers, have some idea of what is happening, the precise ins and outs are unlikely to be clear to the target reader until they are revealed. At the same time, this is beautifully managed so as to be a delicious mystery rather than a frustrating uncertainty.
Another high point, for me, is the setting. Liz Kessler captures the small coastal village and the vagaries of the sea beautifully. The need to be aware of tides, the fishermen's reliance on nature and the ever-present and very real risks from storms are clear. This is also the focus of the beautiful cover.
All in all, I'd definitely recommend this to readers of 9 and over (including adults). I enjoyed this book immensely. I'd also recommend checking out the blog tour to celebrate publication of this lovely novel (see listings below on the right). Liz will be here on the 1st February with more about her inspiration for the book and about the place that sparked it all off.
Liz Kessler has done it again.
North of Nowhere seems to have collected the essence of excellent time travel stories and weaved them together to make a modern, believable book with a strong British feel to it that is a ruddy good read.
There is the growing and long lasting friendship I so loved in Tom's Midnight Garden and the detailed planning of time travel to save the future from the past that was such a major part of the Back To The Future films. There is a heartbreaking moment too, which brought tears to my eyes as I remembered something similar that happened to Nicholas Lyndhurst in Goodnight Sweetheart.
Liz captured the mind of the pre teen so accurately that she could almost have been sat in my house listening to my two in conversation.
I also thought the book handled the difficulties that often do occur because of the generation gap extremely well. I loved the way Mia was beginning to realise that perhaps raising her voice and arguing wasn't really going to get her anywhere. My girls are just beginning to adopt the 'Be Nice' strategy.
I loved that the story was told from multiple points of view, as well as using other methods to communicate such as letters and the diary.
I was not expecting the ending at all. I can't say what I wasn't expecting or I'll give it away, but I'll just say the ending took me by surprise!
I thought North of Nowhere was stunning! Mindblowing! I can't say much more to express how much I loved it because this book insists on secrecy otherwise the surprise will be spoilt.
So in the end all I really need to say is - READ IT! It is awesome!