A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
APPLE & RAIN by Sarah Crossan
When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bittersweet. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are. A story about sad endings. A story about happy beginnings. A story to make you realise who is special.
When I got the schedule for the upcoming posts on Author Allsorts, I signed up to review a book out of my comfort zone. I was taken by the idea after recently reading WE WERE LIARS, which took me quite far from my “usual” genre and, though I really liked it, I quickly went back to more “safe” reads afterward.
As I’m reviewing the book for Author Allsorts, I thought it’d be most relevant to choose a book by one of the Allsorts and keep it as a UKYA pick. So I looked through the “Our Fiction” page and the title that jumped out at me was APPLE & RAIN by Sarah Crossan, which released on Thursday last week (14/08/14). I must thank Bloomsbury for sending me an advanced copy – very much appreciated.
I’ve read BREATHE by Sarah Crossan, which is a YA dystopian book – a genre I very much enjoy – so I thought it’d be interesting to explore something different from the author in a genre I don’t often read. Before I begin the review, I must point out that “out of my comfort zone” doesn’t mean that the book lacks appeal to me or isn’t good in any way. It’s just in a genre I, personally, am unfamiliar with. I must also point out that I loved it! Now on to the review . . .
Even though I chose this title for reading out of my comfort zone, I connected to Apple’s story very quickly. Her voice felt so real, her home, her school, her friends, all of it. Apple’s mum left one Christmas when Apple was very young. Since then, Apple’s grandmother has raised her. Her dad is wrapped up in his new life, and his connection with Apple isn’t very strong. So with an absent mother and a distant father, Apple only really has a few friends and her grandmother around her. But having an overprotective guardian as a teenager proves to be difficult as Apple grows older and her friends are allowed to do things she’s not.
Apple is extremely sweet and intelligent, but there are so many things holding her back and knocking her confidence. It’s clear to the reader why Apple feels like this, and how the people around her have shaped her this way. It was hard to watch at times – like when she wrote a piece of beautiful poetry, then erased it because she was afraid her teacher would ask her to read it out loud in class. And I felt sad watching her go home while her friends went out without her, just to avoid confronting her grandmother.
When Apple’s mum comes back, it turns Apple’s life on its head. It was interesting, and difficult at times, to see how Apple reacted to all of that. And even though I didn’t like Apple’s mum, at least she brought Apple out of her shell a little, even if it wasn’t in all the right ways.
I liked the relationship between Apple and Rain the most. I think that was wonderful to watch develop, given its initial problems. Their care for each other really shone through in darker times and was touching to see. But, for me, Del stole the show. He was my favourite thing about this book. He made me laugh out loud more than once. Sarah Crossan writes very realistic characters and sharp dialogue, bringing them to life on the page so clearly. It is a pleasure to read and enjoy.
There are lots of complicated relationships explored, lots of problems, responsibilities, and challenges tackled within these pages, and all are handled perfectly by the author. This is a striking book, and I am so pleased I picked it up and gave it a go. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And I’ve learned not to be afraid to step out of my comfort zone and discover titles in unfamiliar genres – I might just be surprised by what I find! APPLE & RAIN was honest, moving, and gorgeously written.
Sarah Crossan writes novels for children and teens. Her debut novel in verse, The Weight of Water, was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal in 2013. Breathe was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2014. Before writing full time, Sarah worked as an English teacher. She grew up in Ireland and England and then moved to New York, where she lived for seven years. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her family where she spends most of her day writing, sipping green tea and eating far too many biscuits.
KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate also writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise.