Article published on July 23, 2015.
What begins as something of a conventional YA narrative about not fitting in at school in Kim Hood’s Finding a Voice, soon develops into a unique, unforgettable, empowering story about friendship, understanding and communication against the odds. Thirteen-year-old Jo is having a hard time of it at school and at home. When she offers to help out with a disabled boy, Chris, little does she know just how drastically it will change both of their lives. Kim Hood’s novel tackles all of the staples of teen life and then some in a really affecting yet never sentimentalised exploration of disability.
It’s great that these issues and characters are given centre stage in a narrative that is challenging and provocative, yet affirmative and inspiring. It’s not perfect – it would have been nice to see more of Jo’s problems at school; it gets something of the Disney treatment in its outlook; and it was a shame we only got to hear a little from Chris – but this is truly a book that everyone should read. As a reader it is one of those books that gives you serious pause for thought and hopefully will make you the better for having read it. It is a reminder that everyone has a voice, we just need to have the time, respect and empathy to listen.
Finding a Voice by Kim Hood is published in pbk by The O’Brien Press in August 2014
UK YA Prize shortlist: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
UK YA Prize shortlist: Half Bad by Sally Green
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