Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs and a first aid kit from Amazon using stolen credit cards. She read the SAS Survival Handbook and watched loads of YouTube videos.
And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her. Told in Sal's distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, Sal is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things.
Mick lives in Fife, Scotland with his wife Jill and bad-tempered dog Lucy. He has three grown-up children, and spends more time than is good for him fly fishing for sea trout, reading, playing the banjo and growing strawberries. He also builds boats. Sal is his first novel.
Pensive, adventurous, and moving!
Sal is a compelling tale that takes us on a journey into the lives of two young sisters as they learn to escape and survive both the predators and dangers found in the Scottish wilderness as well as those within their own home.
The prose is astute and vividly descriptive. The characters are witty, vulnerable, loyal, resourceful, and endearing. And the plot is a heart-wrenching story about alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty, self-preservation, coming-of-age, innocence, morality, and selfless love.
Overall, Sal is a profound, sophisticated, inspiring novel that highlights the complex dynamics of sister relationships and does an exquisite job of reminding us just how indomitable the human spirit can truly be.
11 months ago
Sal by Mick Kitson
Disturbing story of two sisters who flee a dysfunctional home to survive in the forest…
I am not sure who the target audience is for this book. If it is for the young adult crowd then I might suggest it be used as a book to be read in class or with parents. Why? The content includes violence, rape, murder and a decision made by a thirteen year old that should be discussed rather than just read and glossed over. If, on the other hand, this book is geared to adults then I would have to say that the rambling all-inclusive diary-like narrative is not one that I was able to relate well to.
The story is complex, plotted well and told in a way that the reader becomes part of the story hoping that all will go well…eventually…and Sal and her sister Peppa will find a bit of peace and happiness. There is information about preparation, survival and fears but I am not sure if Sal, after so many years of being in charge and dealing with all that she did has “turned off” and seemed colder than she should have been or if she is just very realistic and practical. There was another quibble and that was the ending. I felt the time surviving was intense and descriptive and involved and then boom…the end comes but there is no real resolution for any of the characters.
This may have triggers for some: sexual abuse, pedophilia, addiction, alcoholism, murder…
Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate for the ARC – This is my honest review.
More than 1 year ago
It’s difficult to broach the main theme of this book without giving too much away. Suffice to say that Sal commits the most serious of crimes and yet has the reader’s full sympathy. The book explores the extents to which Sal goes in the name of sisterly love but the most poignant aspect of the narrative is her endless support of her errant mother. A strong tension is created in that Sal’s stark recounting of events leaves the reader feeling far less sympathetic towards Maw.
I loved this book. It wasn’t for the fine detailing of Sal and Peppa’s time in the wilderness but for the compelling nature of the underlying story that Sal is telling throughout. The classic adventure stories that are referenced in the book are, superficially, the model for what this story itself is, but, at a deeper level, 'Sal' leaves us questioning the society in which we live today.
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