Thank you to instabooks for my spot on this blogtour.
Aimed at readers between the ages of 14 – 18
I can’t remember exactly when he stopped being the perfect stepdad, or even if he ever was one. Perhaps that was just other people’s perception of him. I can remember, though, the first time he hit me. Last year a girl from school got cancer and everyone rallied around her. I’m not saying she didn’t deserve the sympathy, but her suffering was heroic, whereas mine feels like a source of humiliation. You can see cancer. Or a broken leg. You can’t see this. You can’t see the suffering caused by living with someone who goes out of their way to torment you.
KYA is the best big sister ever. She’s sixteen and I am only five so she is my really big sister. When mummy goes to work KYA does my bath time and reads my bedtime story. Tonight she read my favourite story about the baby bear who couldn’t sleep because there was too much dark in the cave. KYA says I am her baby bear and she will always protect me. I don’t need protecting from the dark though, I have a night light shaped like a mushroom.
Her lips are blood red, and she speaks the words so softly I barely hear them. I know your big secret. My blood runs cold, but she’s pinned me to the bed and I can’t move. Her eyes are like fiery emeralds, burning into me. ‘I know your secret, Zak. It’s your fault he’s dead!’
When Zak meets KYA, he desperately wants to save her from whatever she’s going through at home, but KYA is determined to save herself, and Lizzie. Plus, Zak has his own demons to contend with…..
Kya loves her mum, and she loves her 5 year old sister Lizzie, but her life is being made hell by her stepfather. He ridicules her, he is mentally abusive to her. She tries talking to her mum but she can’t see it. Or is she afraid to see it? Kya has given up all her friends, she is focusing on her studying, keeping her head down.
Zak spots Kya one morning crying in the graveyard, he daren’t approach her for fear of scaring her, but he managed to find out who she is and starts talking to her online. They meet the following day on the way to school and a friendship starts to develop. Kya can’t tell Zak what is happening, in fact she tells no one. But Zak has secrets of his own, things he keeps hidden. But he is a positive person and tries to help Kya. There is a strong connection building between the two.
Lizzie is only 5 and she thinks her daddy is the best, she doesn’t understand why daddy shouts at Kya, she doesn’t understand when mummy and daddy use loud voices. What has Kya done that makes daddy so cross. She loves Kya.
The story is told through three points of view, that of Kya, Lizzie and Zak. Everything started going bad for Kya one day when she refused to eat cabbage as she didn’t like cabbage, but her stepdad grabbed her and forced the cabbage into her mouth, as he was doing this her heavily pregnant mum was trying to drag him off of Kya, eventually he stopped but threw the plates across the room, that’s how it started but he was all apologetic the next day to her mum saying it would never happen again, Kya was 11 then. Kya had gone to her room and switched on her tv and saw a documentary about hummingbirds and their pretty colours. That night she dreamt of a hummingbird trapped in a bell jar it was begging for her help to set it free. Before it disintegrated.
The story follows the abuse that Kya deals with at the hands of her stepfather, it may not be being beaten, but words can be just as abusive. Not allowing her to go out, not buying her new shoes when she needs them. Her mum isn’t listening or is she? Maybe she is as trapped in the situation as Kya, he is a respectable man in the eyes of everyone who knows him, they just don’t see what happens behind closed doors. Her mum doesn’t see any of her wages, she has to make sure his lunch is on the table when he gets home. Everything has to be done his way.
The relationship between Kya and Zak is sweet, he understands, he knows something isn’t right and tries to protect Kya. They have lots in common.
The main theme of the story is showing that no matter how respectable someone looks on the outside, they aren’t always as they seem, an abuser can look like your average person, they can be from any walk of life, a dr. A teacher, a politician, abuse can also take many forms it can be verbal it can be physical. If someone is being abused in any way they should be able to come forward and talk to someone and not be afraid to do so. But many are, and many abusers get away with it for years.
This is a well written well thought out novel aimed at young adults told as a story to help them understand if the see something g that they don’t feel is right or if someone is abusing them in some way it’s ok to step forward and ask for help.
With great characters that are believable and relatable. A read I would highly recommend for children between 14 and 17. It’s engaging from start to finish.