Friday, 5 July 2013
Review: This Northern Sky by Julia Green
Released: July 4th, 2013
Kate's parents are taking her on holiday with them to a cottage on a remote island in the Hebrides. Kate can't imagine anything more boring. But underneath her sulkiness, Kate is scared. Her parents have been fighting and she knows that for her parents this holiday is make or break. Once at the cottage, Kate escapes - outside, anywhere. And there she meets the warmth of the islanders, who are prepared to accept her and to listen to her. And possibly fall in love with her...
This Northern Sky is yet another brilliantly written book from Julia Green. It's the third I've read by her and is equally as good as Breathing Underwater and Drawing with Light, keeping me hooked all the way through and making it seem like summer is truly here! The whole novel takes place in the Hebredes (islands off the coast of Scotland, I believe), as Kate holidays there with her mum and dad over her summer break from school. The island and weather is described so vividly it's like you're there, and even travel-hating me now quite fancies visiting the islands.
Julia Green really is a fantastic writer, everything flows so smoothly and her prose is lyrical and lovely. That's the only way I can describe it. She is, in my opinion, grossly underrated, and should be more recognised for her teen novels. I've always thought she was like the UK's answer to Sarah Dessen, and I'll happily say that again. She writes very true, keeping her characters and plots realistic and easy to believe; she never strays into the unbelievable, which is another aspect of her writing that I love. It's just straight-up, down to earth teen realism - her characters have flaws and they know it. I wish there was more YA fiction like this, just because it's so relatable and accessible.
Along with Kate's endless exploration of the Hebredes, she's also dealing with her mum and dad's marital problems, a past boyfriend and a group of new friends. Feelings are complicated and present and, for her fifteen years, she's experiencing a lot of hard stuff. Not every family is perfect - far from it - and This Northern Sky does an excellent job of highlighting that. It makes Kate's story that much more grounded, knowing that she's going through something that thousands of families go through. For the record, I really liked her mum and dad, even through all their faults. They're a realistic family unit, which is something I'd like to see more of in contemporary teen fiction.
Another thing I like about Julia Green's novels is that romance and love isn't the be all and end all of her characters. They don't live by it or let it define them; they're their own person and I appreciate that. Romance doesn't have to always take centre stage, sometimes simple friendship can be just as important, especially at a younger age. See, there's that realism creeping in again!
I can't recommend Julia Green's books enough, and I'll be catching up with a few I've missed, starting with Bringing the Summer. I hope she continues to write books like this, and I hope she eventually gets more recognition. She's an unsung YA hero, in my opinion, quietly writing ridiculously good books that seem to be overlooked in the sea of young adult fiction. If you like contemporary fiction, or just fancy reading a good story, pick up one of her books. I think you'll love them as much as I do.