Monday, April 25, 2011

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard

I wish I could just say: Go buy the book.  Read it.  Love it.

Because that is what I feel.  ASFKITD is such a unique book filled to the brim with Skip's unique voice and point of view.  Few authors can successfully pull of a voice as pure and interesting as Skip's.  The only other two I could think of is:

  • My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher 
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon 

Skip runs away from home.  His life is awful - both at home and at school.  He is bullied and treated badly.  But he's a wonderful artist and sees the world in bright colours and shifting shadows and light.  People tend not to quite understand what he's about, so he thinks that running away is the best thing for him to do.  In his running away he ends up meeting Billy, a homeless man who completely understands Skip.  And Skip is intelligent enough to realise that hanging out with Billy will be beneficial for them both.

I'm not going to talk about the actual story here, because it is a slender novel packed full of fantastic writing and it deserves to unfold for readers the same way it did for me.

Templar who are publishing this are effusive in their praise and you can't fault them.  Ms. Millard writes with great poignancy about Skip, Billy and the very young boy Max.  For a while their lives are undisturbed (apart from the war, that is) but you have this sense that the three of them form this great unit.  There is a honeymoon quality to it, if you ignore the harsh realities of the city under siege.  The three of them survive successfully and as a unit, they get things done.  However, things are changed when they find a young girl Tia and Tia in turn has a small baby whom they decide to call Sixpence.

I am really struggling to put into words how deeply ASFKITD touched me - it reminded me in some ways of the free association writing in How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, only more lyrical and poetic, if I can put it that way.  Skip's descriptions of paintings by Monet and Da Vinci is pure magic, as is his very first observation of Tia dancing.

Skip's character remains wonderfully true to himself throughout the book and undergoes tremendous growth.  Billy and Max are great supporting characters who add so much to the story that there were times I wished they had their own chapters to narrate.  Tia remains a true enigma and even when we think we've figured it out, it's shown that we haven't.

Just, take my word on this.  Get a copy of A Small Free Kiss in the Dark.  Take an afternoon off and prepare to be magicked away to Skip's world where things may not be very pleasant but where there is hope and love and strength and friendships beyond compare.

I'm not the only one to be blown away by this, go here to read the Library Mice's review of A Small Free Kiss in the Dark.  I think she's far more eloquent than I am!

The rest of the Blog Tour can be found here:


Jenni @ Juniper's Jungle said...

The combination of the front cover and your opening paragraph have left me adding this to my wishlist :)

Library Mice said...

I am glad you loved it too, Liz. Such an unusual story!

Unknown said...

Okay. to be honest I only needed to see the cover to want to read this one, but this review has totally sold me on it!

I will be making use of my Waterstones' loyalty points later this week!

Karen C said...

Great review. I really wish I'd been able to find time to read this for the tour too as it sounds excellent and I kinda feel like I'm missing out. I loved both the other books you mention.

Glad you enjoyed it :)