A beautifully written, moving and impactful story about finding the way, and the words, to stand up for yourself.
On the surface, it looks like Lucy has everything. Everything that money can buy. But money can’t stop the arguments between her parents. Money can’t sweep away the tension that’s almost suffocating Lucy as angry and unspoken words fill their house. Desperate to escape, Lucy seeks refuge in the attic. An attic which is linked to the attic of all the other millionaire’s in their row. Lucy starts to explore, slowly unravelling the secrets of the other people in her street. It’s alright as long as no-one else knows she’s been there. However, when her best friend – Megan – discovers the secret space, Lucy’s private exploration suddenly becomes a way to expose the bullies.
When I flicked to the first page of The Words that Fly Between Us, I was immediately drawn in by Lucy’s appealing first-person voice and the beautiful writing that flows so well that I thought this was going to be an easy book to read. This initial impression of simplicity is, however, misleading. Instead, we’re quickly introduced to our first theme – about the power of words and the negative impact of what’s left unspoken. This builds throughout the book, gradually shaping the layers of the deeper theme about bullying and harnessing the strength to stand up for yourself.
This theme is reinforced through a series of cleverly interwoven stories. The first is the deteriorating relationship between Lucy’s parents and the suffocating feeling of helplessness that forces Lucy to escape to the attic. The second is the experience of Lucy’s best friend, Megan, who puts up with both face-to-face and online bullying from Lucy’s neighbour, Hazel. These are supported by a more minor storyline around the lies that Lucy’s dad tells about their elderly neighbour and a series of ongoing references to a brief encounter Lucy has with a homeless girl near the start of the book.
It’s testament to the sheer talent of author, Sarah Carroll, that these threads hold together so coherently. For a book that is predominately character and situation based, it’s also surprising just how gripping and addictive this book is. (I read it in just one sitting). I desperately wanted both Lucy and Megan to stand up for themselves but – as I am sure the author intended – I also wanted them to do this in the right way. Indeed, I couldn’t put the book down until both girls find the words, and an appropriate way, to stand up for themselves.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum – a gripping story that uses a fantasy setting to reinforce messages about friendship, truth and breaking boundaries. Alternatively, for a lighter young teen read, why not try Summer of No Regrets by Kate Mallinder.
Publication Date: May 2019
Publisher: Simon and Schuster