Every Sparrow Falling

Today, I am so glad to celebrate the publication day of this beautiful, heart-felt and important book by sharing my review and implore you to read it.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy by Atom Books and Frankie Banks, so thank you so much to them for sending me this wonderful book to review!

Trigger warnings: homophobia, conversion therapy, death, rape, gaslighting and emotional manipulation 

Synopsis:

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‘Be nice to the majority of people and they won’t bother you much. Don’t get too involved. Have a laugh but keep your distance.’

These are the words 16-year-old Cariad lives by. She’s just been placed in yet another foster home, this time with an elderly Christian couple in a small town off the coast of Northern Ireland.

Cariad knows how to play this game. She’ll toe the line just enough that her new foster parents don’t ask what she gets up to when the sun goes down, just enough that they leave her alone. It’s easier that way.

But when a boy at school disappears – presumed dead – and no one seems to care, it really bothers her. Then one night out walking on the clifftops, she sees him and he asks her to keep his secret.

Don’t get too involved. Have a laugh but keep your distance.These are the words Cariad has lived by . . . until now.

My Thoughts:

This is such a beautiful, heartfelt and important story that McMillan has created. It tackles the struggle to find your place and the conflict that can occur between your faith and your sexuality.

Cariad is such a well-written character, who I instantly connected with and though she isn’t perfect, she is wholly human and makes mistakes, but is also a caring, supportive friend. Her dialogue often made me smirk, bu also made me saddened with her troubled past and huge conflict of loyalties. Every one of the main group of characters felt three-dimensional and nuanced, with believable motivations and hints of backstory that helped create Caraid’s support network that sometimes she didn’t even realise was there.

However, Brains was my favourite character, as I just really loved his sardonic humour and was astounded by his sheer ability and confidence in himself. He felt so real through his warmth and difficulty in admitting that he needed help, instead seeking solace in alcohol and wild nights out. Caraid shares this need for escapism, which felt so true of a teenager growing up in a conservative town. Muffy also was such a sympathetic character and his arc was one of the most complex and heart-breaking of the book.

McMillan has written a powerful, timely novel addressing the horrifying issue of conversion therapy and internalised homophobia. Slurs would appear casually though some character’s dialogue, helping to create the stifling atmosphere of Ballybaile. The scenes around conversion therapy were a tough, but necessary read. Conversion therapy is still prevalent in the UK, as shown by Stonewall’s Unhealthy Attitudes (2015) report found that 10 per cent of health and care staff have witnessed colleagues expressing the belief that lesbian, gay and bi people can be ‘cured’ of their sexual orientation. This enrages me so much and I think books like this, which bring the message that this is an abhorrent, harmful practice are so amazing and need to be read by everyone.

Thank you again to Frankie and Atom Books for sending me a copy to review and I genuinely implore you to pick up this moving, enthralling book.

2 thoughts on “Every Sparrow Falling

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