Friday 23 September 2022

A Little Spark

A Little Spark written by Barry Jonsberg, (Allen & Unwin) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 97817052924

Reviewed by Sarah Tegerdine

A Little Spark is an absorbing and uplifting narrative that takes you on an emotive pilgrimage of the heart. We meet thirteen-year-old Caitlyn Carson against the backdrop of Melbourne suburbia: she is bright and wise beyond her years, has a brilliant talent for writing and divides her life in two. One half, the everyday is spent with her Mum and Stepdad, Sam and the other, the world Cate and her dad have created together on weekends.

Cate loves both her parents very much and deliberately sets them apart: what happens in one world isn’t shared in the other. Cate also has a best friend, Elise, and it’s only here where those two worlds meet. Life is okay until one day, the natural order of things is disrupted to a whole new level. Cates Stepdad is offered a dream job in London.

While facing a potential move overseas and supporting her best friend through a crisis of her own, Cate feels a deep sense of frustration over the lack of control she feels in her life. However, through all the upheaval Cate unearths what she wants and reclaims her voice.

With its warm and upbeat tones, you will laugh out loud, but it will equally leave you shedding tears with its unforeseen twists. Difficult themes like attempted suicide, divorce, and grief are explored with thoughtful care and honesty.

Its powerful storytelling reminds us about the restorative powers of friendship and compassion, to embrace the present in all its manifestations and to never let your spark go out.

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