Hello everybody! Today, I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for a Kind of Spark, which is the latest release from the fabulous inclusive indie publisher Knights Of, and one of my favourite books I’ve read all year. Onto the post!
In her debut novel, Elle McNicoll tells the story of a girl named Addie, who lives in a small Scottish town and is autistic, and explores her relationship with her family and also the prejudices she faces at school when she moves into a new year and gets a teacher who makes it very clear that she has no interest in Addie, or anyone who is “different”. While I loved seeing Addie’s different relationships with her family members- even though they very definitely aren’t always perfect in regards to supporting her, with the exception of her older sister Keedie, who is also autistic- I very much did not love Miss Murphy. I have very rarely been so angry at a character in anything, but knowing that there are an unfortunate number of people like her in the real world made her feel so visceral, and the way that she tries to pretend to Addie’s family at various points in the book that she isn’t treating her so cruelly made me even more livid.
The book is really informative about how autism affects people, and also the ableism that they experience in different parts of life, but it’s also just a really well written book- I devoured the whole thing in an afternoon because I was so caught up in Addie’s world, and on that note I thought she was an amazing heroine. It’s also about her discovering the horrors of the witch trials through a project at school and what happens when she begins campaigning for a monument to the women who lost their lives as a result in the town, even though she faces a lot of backlash for doing so.
The parallels drawn between the witch trials and the ableism autistic people face were terrifying, and this was another thing that made me furious at the world when I was reading this; the lack of progress in people who in any way differ from the perceived “norm” being treated with basic human decency is a disgrace. It was also just really interesting learning more about the witch trials in general, as it’s an area of history that’s so often ignored- I really wish that I’d been educated further in this part of local history while I was at school.
Another thing it’s very important to note about this book is that it’s Own Voices, and I am so glad it’s being published- everyone deserves to see their reality reflected in fiction, and for this not to feel tokenistic or poorly handled. I absolutely can’t wait to read more from Elle in the future; her debut proves she’s a crucial, not to mention incredibly talented, voice in middle grade. 5/5
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is out now, published by Knights Of, priced £6.99 in paperback original.
If you’d like to donate to Knights Of’s Inclusive Indies fundraiser to help support their work, you can do that here.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Or do you have it on your TBR? I’d love to hear in the comments!