Splinters of Sunshine
by Patrice Lawrence
The festive celebrations start right enough for 15-year-old Spey and his Mum. They decorate the Christmas tree, drink snowballs (aka "an omelette in a glass"), re-watch The Blues Brothers on DVD... but then, Christmas Eve gets rudely interrupted by a surprise visit from Spey's absent Dad, Benni. More than just a little absent. Just-out-of prison absent. Meantime, Dee is alone in a room down on the coast. Just her, one mattress and some cardboard boxes, in a flat where the key has been turned in the front door. When Mum hands Spey a mysterious envelope bursting with scraps of cut out flowers and childish doodles, he is propelled on to a road trip down south, from London to Hastings. A quest to solve the mystery of his missing childhood friend, Dee, soon spirals out into a journey of self-discovery, one which will make him grapple with his identity in the present and which will need him to revisit some uncomfortable places from his past. At the heart of these discoveries, at the heart of everything is Dee- a young woman who despite all the things conspiring to cut her down persists, roots herself down, thrives, survives, shines.
The latest Young Adult novel from multiple award-winning author, Patrice Lawrence. And it's absolutely trademark Lawrence. Strap yourself in. Hold on tight. This is a single-sitting thriller; there's a reason Lawrence has won the CrimeFest Award not once, but twice. And, of course, there is the usual wonderful array of memorable characters: from secondary players such as the higher-than-aloof Astrid and "big-sis radar"-equipped Fi to protagonists Spey, an endearing (Mixed Race) reluctant hero, and care leaver Dee, who belts you over your heart and then lodges herself in there. With Dee, Lawrence continues her passionate claim on the agency and voice of those young women who society so often ignores, silences, mishears or passes by ... like so many weeds. "I imagined Dee as the most common wildflowers, the ones considered weeds. She is ignored, or a nuisance, unwanted. But Dee also knows about wildflowers- their strength and beauty too..." (Lawrence's letter accompanying early proofs of the novel). Unforgettable. Indelible. Age 13+, Paperback 320pp