Sometimes a book comes along that is just so beautifully crafted it leaves you awestruck. From it's sublime cover by Angela Harding to it's raw, poetic, emotionally-charged prose, 'October, October' by Katya Balen is simply magnificent. Like the month it references, this is a story that sings with sorrow and splendour; warm and wild and wonderful.
October lives in the woods with her dad. They are wild and warm together. But when October turns eleven and she rescues her baby owl and her dad falls from a tree, everything changes. October finds herself whisked away to live with her mother in London, a place full of hard edges, bright lights, noise and an uncertain future...
'October, October' is all about the voice: October's voice that sings with the wildness of the wind through the trees, conjuring a wild depth of emotion and a swirling imagination like capturing falling leaves. It's simply breathtakingly beautiful.
This is a book of two halves. October's narrative is of the woods and of the city, and both are evoked with a rawness, a heart, a tenderness that reflects our fragile place in the world. This is a story about how stories are fashioned in fragments, how nature treats us and how our courage to accept the complexities of life grows us wings. But it's also a story about our senses, about the smell of the autumn, the squelch of mud, the touch of bark and the spangle of stars. With references to 'Stig of the Dump' and other stories, 'October, October' is about finding your soul in a world of change, from season to season, from woods to city, from dark to light. This is a classic in the making and certainly one of the best books of the last year. I can't recommend it highly enough and I'm so pleased to have read it now too because this is one to return to every October.