May 9th 2013
Macmillan Children's Books
During the summer of her GCSEs Kite's world falls apart. Her best friend, Dawn, commits suicide after a long struggle with feeling under pressure to achieve. Kite's dad takes her to the Lake District, to give her time and space to grieve. In London Kite is a confident girl, at home in the noisy, bustling city, but in the countryside she feels vulnerable and disorientated. Kite senses Dawn's spirit around her and is consumed by powerful, confusing emotions - anger, guilt, sadness and frustration, all of which are locked inside. It's not until she meets local boy, Garth, that Kite begins to open up - talking to a stranger is easier somehow. Kite deeply misses her friend and would do anything to speak to Dawn just once more, to understand why . . . Otherwise how can she ever say goodbye? A potent story about grief, friendship, acceptance and making your heart whole again.
I really enjoyed Kite Spirit a lot, but I had a lot of problems connecting to it at the beginning and it took me a while to get into it. However, I liked Kite's story and felt like it was a strong book about grief and suicide and learning how to accept those things.
The main barrier for me was the fact that it was written in 3rd person. Usually, I don't mind and it can be nice to read a book in 3rd person after reading so many that are in 1st (in can get confusing when trying to remember what main characters are called and sometimes the voices all sort of blend into one), but when reading a contemporary, especially that's so personal to the character, I want to be able to get directly into their heads and experience the grief raw and real as it's happening to them, you know? What was weird was that the prologue was in first, and that's what made me want to read it, but then it switched and it just took me a while to adjust. I think that if it had been all the way through in 3rd and we hadn't had that first brief period of 1st person, then I wouldn't have minded as much.
However, despite the emotional disconnect, I did like Kite and the plot of the book a lot. Kite was a really interesting character and it was good to see how her grief about Dawn had affected her so much and really changed her as a person, as well as getting to see her adjust to her situation and just trying to understand it. I could really feel for her. Also, I don't read a lot of books about suicide in general, but it must be a really hard subject to write about and I think that Sita did it really well. I was glad that it was never revealed why Dawn did it (mainly because nobody knew, I guess - she didn't leave a note), but that it was heavily implied that it was just because of the pressure of high school, GCSEs and A Levels, because it's true, we do get a lot of pressure put on us and it isn't fair (this may be more relevant to me especially at this time because I have exams in less than 3 weeks and STRESS.)
Kite Spirit really got going for me when Kite got to the Lake District, because for the first hundred pages or so, it felt like not all that much was happening. Also, you could really tell that Sita knew the Lake District well because the descriptions were so great and I don't think I've ever wanted to go to the Lake District in my life as much I did while reading this book. And the house that they (Kite and her dad, Seth) stayed in just sounded amazing! The people that they met there, too, were some of my favourite parts about the book. Not just Garth (though he was adorable), but Jack and Agnes, and getting to find out parts of their story from when they were young. It was really sweet.
While Kite Spirit wasn't the visceral, emotional read I was hoping for, it was still an interesting and enjoyable and sad book about losing someone you love, and I look forward to reading more of Sita Brahmachari's books.