A Map of the Sky

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Member Reviews

This is a beautiful story of a young boy trying to navigate his new surroundings. While his new house on the Northeast coast of England is being prepared, Kit finds himself spending his summer holiday  at a bed and breakfast with his mother and sister. He can’t quite figure out why his dad hasn’t joined them. 
Mom is always busy with work and big sister, Juliet, is working hard to get ahead on school assignments for the up coming term. Young Kit seeks out attention and friendship from the others at the guest house. 
Kit becomes particularly fond of Beth, the wife of the proprietor. While Beth is often not feeling well from illness and pregnancy, she sends Kit out on adventures in her place. Kit befriends an ornithologist hiding from his colleagues for the summer and eventually the ornery Maddie, a let go teacher., on her own pilgrimage. 
Kit is on a quest to solve the problems of all the guests and his family. He doesn’t always succeed and sometimes makes things seem worse. He’s desperate to learn when or if his father will join the family in their new home. He has his theories of why they are moving and who is to blame for their fragmented family life. I very much enjoyed following Kit and his friends on their summer of discovery.
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I really liked this story. Told by 11 year old Kit it is a very interesting perspective of the lives of the people around him. I thought that Beth’s illness was sympathetically talked about and that there was empathy as well. I hope there is a sequel. 


Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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A Map of the Sky was a sweet book, told from the point of view of Kit, a young boy who suddenly finds himself moved to a new town with his mother and older sister, leaving his father and friends behind, to live in an inn while their new house is being finished. A lover of King Arthur and the Odyssey, he tries to find his own "quest" to save those he meets at the inn. He tries to help save Beth -- the co-owner of the inn who is pregnant and ill, Bert -- a disgraced college professor, and Maddie -- a woman who is on her own type of quest trying to recover from a professional fallout.

This is a slow burn kind-of-a-book. It plods along slowly, and you only get bits of what's actually happening -- the result of being told from a child's point of view. As an adult, you can pick up on some of the things that are really going on, but you don't really get a full sense of it all until the end. And even at the end, perhaps none of this was actually "quest-worthy," but it was still a charming read with really nice characters. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book in exchange for my review. This has not influenced my opinion.
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I received a free electronic copy of this warm family novel from Netgalley, Claire Wong, and Lion Fiction.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read A Map of the Sky of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. These characters are friends before the first quarter of the book is finished, and you 'see' this cold, rainy, windswept edge of England as seen through the eyes of Clare Wong with every page turned. 

Claire Wong brings us a view of the modern world through the gaze of our precocious 'Kit'.  Many of the tidbits of information are culled from Kit's journal, a new red binder bought especially for this journey, which he titled 'The Intrepid Northern Adventures of Christopher Shackleton Fisher Age Eleven.'  The family Fisher, mother Catherine, older sister Juliet 'Jules' and their father had been preparing for a move from London to Askfeld, in the very northern edge of England on the North Sea, at the end of the school term.  For reasons not shared with Kit, he, Juliet, and Catherine leave London a week early, necessitating a stay at a local bed and breakfast owned by Sean and Beth Garsdale as they await closing on their new home and the delivery of their household goods. 

Perfectionist Juliet was able to take her final GCSE exams before they left London but waits impatiently for her scores.  She spends most of her time on her phone, texting friends in London.  When the wifi is out during most storms and rain, she looks to Kit for entertainment.  Kit missed his class end-of-year party.  He can live with that, but he really misses his Dad. His mom Catherine seems to be going overboard on the protective restrictions placed on Kit. He can only even go outdoors when accompanied by  Catherine AND Jules.  He's eleven, already! And Catherine spends most of her time online with her company in London as she steers her replacement into filling her old job. Dad has had to stay in London and finish up some work and get set up to 'work from home' in the North and will join them later, a date postponed several times.  

Other guests at the B&B are Bert Gawpin, an older University instructor, and avid birdwatcher, and Maddie Morley, a younger teacher who finds herself stalled on what she had thought to be a healing pilgrimage and who's so hurt and angry her self-control is verging on non-existent. The owner's wife Beth is very pregnant and suffering from a debilitating disease as well. Owner Sean and cook Nick are overworked and underpaid, with not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Kit determines that he can 'fix' the problems of his new acquaintances by following the examples set out by his comic book heroes, King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc.  His first quest will be to assist artist Beth in her effort to make a map of all the wonderful places a child can enjoy in their little corner of the world, something she will be able to share with her baby when he/she is older. It is possible that Sean is not drugging Beth to make her sick, in which case he could help Sean too.  He must distract Bert who is without any self-confidence after making a mess of a published paper, and get him involved with local birdwatching, which Bert loves. Kit tells Bert the albatross story gleaned from the finished corner Beth's map and accompanies him without parental permission on a dry run to the area of the rumored previous sighting of an albatross.  And Maddie is just heart-sick because she misses her learning disabled students, students she left when it was pointed out to her that she wasn't capable of helping them.  If he can get her started again on her pilgrimage perhaps he can help her find a better place in her heart. As for himself, he will be fine, when his Dad gets there.  If his Dad gets there...
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Thank you to Lion Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

An enjoyable read that opened my eyes to the way children can perceive and understand (and also misunderstand) adult behavior and situations. The author does a wonderful job of describing Kit's thoughts and his emotions, although I did find his characterization a bit young for being 11 years old.
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A lovely book that tells the story of a just-turned 11-year-old boy as he tries to understand situations that are just too much part of the adult world for him to grasp. 
The author has really tried to get inside young Kit’s mind and tell the story through his eyes and his experiences. Understanding of the wider world, the bigger situations, are revealed to us as Kit learns them - not always as we expect. 
The characters were believable and likeable, and the descriptions of the places were fantastic – you could almost see/smell them. Seeing them through Kit’s London-child eyes made them so much more vivid - I would like to have seen more of these descriptions, especially during the walk to Whitby where you just know that Kit would have been bouncing with excitement and Bert would have been eager to point out what he was seeing ... 
My only criticism is that Kit seems to be just a little younger than just-turned-11 - if he’d been a year or so younger,, I would have believed his character just a tiny bit more! On the  other hand, the mix of “trying to be grown up” with “still a child” does work ...

Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book free via NetGalley. All opinions on my own.
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Sadly, this was not what I expected. :( I wanted there to be much more of a focus on Beth's chronic illness since that is what drew me to the book in the first place. Still enjoyable, but just disappointing in my opinion.
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Lovely feel good story. It was well written and flowed well. Easy to read and hard to put down. Perfect on these summer nights
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A good story line with interesting characters. I found it somewhat slow paced but loved the lush descriptions of the settings. 

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Claire Wong is a totally new author to me, but I was intrigued by the description of the book when I saw it on Netgalley.*

The premise is charming - Kit, an 11 year old boy, decides to take on a 'quest' to help the owner of the B&B he is staying in with a map of her childhood haunts - all the secret and special places she wishes to share with her own family but is having trouble remembering herself. Along the way he must figure out what is going on with his own family, and the other adults around them in the B&B.

I generally really enjoy stories like this, where the narrator is a younger person and we are seeing the world through their eyes and thoughts; there are some wonderful moments of observation by Kit and we really do learn what is going on just as he does, but I can't help but wish the 'quest' itself was more detailed. While overall I did enjoy the story, the idea which drew me in - him exploring in the way that only a child really can - doesn't go on for long enough for me. I waited for more of the lovely descriptions of the wilds of the area, of the natural world through his eyes. A relatively minor complaint but what is there is lovely, so it isn't a bad thing that I wanted more of it!

I will definitely check out any further releases to see if they also pique my interest like this title did.


* I received this novel as an ARC from NetGalley.co.uk and the publishers Lion Fiction.
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An interesting read seeing the world through the eyes of 11 year old Kit.  
Assume a sequel is planned as lots of scope left for a follow up.
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Such a heart-warming, satisfying read. Beautifully written and totally captivating. Outstanding. Will certainly look out for this author's next offering.
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This book is really beautiful. It tells the story through the eyes of an eleven year old boy trying to understand some very adult situations, circumstances and reasonings. This book is so well written with such care love and attention to detail. I’m sure everyone will be talking about this book this year.
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