What The World Doesn’t See by Mel Darbon, reviewed by Farrah (16) 

Maudie and Jake’s family is falling apart, with their mum struggling with her grief after the passing of their dad. One night she vanishes with only a note left behind, and no news of her whereabouts. When their aunt puts Jake in care, Maudie goes to desperate lengths to try to reunite her family, and she kidnaps Jake, taking him with her to Cornwall, hoping that when her Mum learns of the current situation, she will return.

“…a bond between brother and sister that is so beautiful and raw that it is almost tangible.”

Farrah (16)

What unfolds is a powerful and moving tale of grief, healing, finding oneself, first love and familial bonds. 

‘What The World Doesn’t See’ is a book that will stick with you long after you turn the last page, with very well written autism representation, and a bond between brother and sister that is so beautiful and raw that it is almost tangible.

The author Mel Darbon explains in the author’s note that she wrote from a very personal experience of having a sibling on the autism spectrum. Darbon highlights that whilst Jake’s experience (as well as that of her own brother’s) does not speak for the experience of everyone with autism, the novel clearly displays common obstacles faced by those like Jake, stemming predominately from people’s ignorance. Darbon’s writing, especially when we get to read from Jake’s point of view (since the story is told in dual narrative, allowing us to see life through the eyes of both Maudie and Jake) was very impactful. 

Ultimately, this book follows the physical and emotional journey of Maudie and Jake (and their mother), as they navigate their way through grief and towards healing, as well as the relationship between the siblings evolving as Maudie recognises what Jake is capable of, and allows him more freedom and opportunity to express his own independence. 

Ways to Be Me by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott, reviewed by Evie

This book is spreading the word on Autism. It is in one word ; Amazing !

It is definitely a page turner because as the reader you want to know what happens next in the life of Tally Olivia Adams. The book is set at school as well as home , but also includes Tallys trips to the doctor. 

Tally is just starting Year 6 – ( so am I ! ) and when she comes to school after the summer holidays everyone seems to have changed…. this confuses Tally;  and as the story progresses she learns more about herself and the reasons she acts the way she does. Tally would like to fit in at school but finds it difficult.

There are some twists that surprised me I won’t give them away….but you will learn if you read this book that Autism comes in different shapes and sizes.

The good thing about this book is that even though there are no pictures I can imagine the appearance of Tally and her best friend Layla. The descriptive writing helps the reader to see through the writers eyes.

Anyone around the age of 9-12 will hopefully enjoy this book as much as I did.

The Space We’re In by Katya Balen and Laura Carlin

“We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too.

Frank is ten. He likes cottage pie and football and cracking codes.

Max is five. He eats only Quavers and some colours are too bright for him and if he has to wear a new T-shirt he melts down down down. Sometimes Frank wishes Mum could still do huge paintings of stars and asteroids like she used to, but since Max was born she just doesn’t have time. When tragedy hits Frank and Max’s lives like a comet, can Frank piece together a universe in which he and Max aren’t light years apart?

This jaw-dropping, heartbreaking and hopeful novel from debut author Katya Balen will remind you we are all made of stardust.”

This is going to be very special!

Brilliantly told in an authentic young voice that is raw and compelling, this is a truly immersive read. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it celebrates the power of friendship, play and imagination in finding your voice and being comfortable with your place in the world. It brings together art and science, bullying and friendship, family and loss to create something beautiful and uplifting. We can’t wait to see how Laura Carlin’s illustrations combine with  such beautiful, powerful writing. 

Brilliant for schools to promote empathy and understanding of autism and its impact on families. Readers will love deciphering the codes to read the chapter headings. The perfect read for fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Published 5th September by Bloomsbury, you can pre-order your copy here.