When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there?
What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home.
I don’t think I have ever read anything quite like The Wild Way Home, and I really loved it. It is adventurous and brave, but tender and moving as well. Something I have really enjoyed in middle grade fiction this year is when it looks at shifting family dynamics (in this case the arrival of Charlie’s new baby brother) and also the way that these stories show that things can go wrong (big things, like Charlie’s brother’s heart condition) but that there is still hope for things to be ok in the end. There is something really raw and open about this in The Wild Way Home and I really appreciated it.
Something else that I thought was super cool about this one was the fact that throughout the story Charlie is never labelled with a gender, and it was only thinking back after I finished the book that I noticed. I think it’s such a great example of how writing can be completely gender-inclusive (including both male and female and also non-binary genders), and also that books don’t have to be “for girls” or “for boys”. I love that it shows that a story can be adventurous without necessarily having to have a male protagonist , and that a reader/protagonist genders don’t have to be the same for readers to relate to and enjoy a story.
I definitely recommend picking this one up if you’re after a great adventure with a big heart and a touch of magical realism too.
The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley
Out now from Bloomsbury.
Source: Free copy kindly sent to me by the team at Bloomsbury (thank you!). All views are my own
Category: Middle grade (8-12yrs) fiction, comporary with a twist of magical realism/fantasy.
Themes: Adventure, family,
Format: Paperback (256pp)