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Book Review: Norah’s Ark by Victoria Williamson #TheWriteReads #BlogTour

My dear bookish friends,

Every now and then I love me a good emotional read, and wow, I have found it! Read on to find out why you really shouldn’t ever judge a book by its cover, and for my reasons why I loved this book so much!

A huge thank you goes to TheWriteReads, the author and Neem Tree Press for having me on this tour and for my ecopy of the book (none of which influenced my review in any way).

About the Book

Two very different lives. One shared hope for a brighter future. No time to waste. The flood is coming…

Eleven-year-old Norah Day lives in temporary accommodation, relies on foodbanks for dinner, and doesn’t have a mum. But she’s happy enough, as she has a dad, a pet mouse, a pet spider, and a whole zoo of rescued local wildlife to care for. Eleven-year-old Adam Sinclair lives with his parents in a nice house with a big garden, a private tutor, and everything he could ever want. But his life isn’t perfect – far from it. He’s recovering from leukaemia and is questioning his dream of becoming a champion swimmer. When a nest of baby birds brings them together, Norah and Adam discover they’re not so different after all. Can Norah help Adam find his confidence again? Can Adam help Norah solve the mystery of her missing mother? And can their teamwork save their zoo of rescued animals from the rising flood? Offering powerful lessons in empathy, Norah’s Ark is a hopeful and uplifting middle-grade tale for our times about friendship and finding a sense of home in the face of adversity.

My Review

Oh boy, this book made me feel all the feels! From a child’s illness to poverty and homelessness, from foster care to bullying to unemployment, and also to the struggles many children face at school – Norah’s Ark includes so many deep themes that it is making for a very eye-opening and touching read. But at the same time, it is also a book about family, friendship and hope – the total package!

This book immediately made me think of the saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but not because the cover doesn’t fit (on the contrary, I really like it!), but because the two main characters (and also some of the supporting characters) are prime examples of why you should never judge people based on their appearance. A chubby boy might be chubby not because he eats cake all day and doesn’t want to move, and a lonely girl with dirty clothes might not be dirty by choice because she enjoys playing in mud all day and refuses to change into fresh clothes.

I love how this book makes you catch yourself by your very own prejudices and stereotypes you may inherently hold – even without consciously doing it – and that was a very refreshing, unique and eye-opening experience that not many authors master. Norah’s first impression of Adam was that of a snobbish, fat kid who has everything, who lives in a big mansion, probably never moves an inch and never lifts a finger because he is being pampered by his parents (and possibly by a butler and maid too). She thinks he eats all day to look like that and then she also catches him stealing the nest of baby birds that she was looking after! Her whole world is shaken to the core.

But then, the perspective shifts and we hear how bad Adam himself feels about the shape of his body as a result of all the medicine he had to take over all this time, and how hard it was for him to outrun his hovering and controlling parents to save the baby birds from the neighbour’s cat which already got their parents. This moment hit me right in the feels and it was then that I was really hooked and didn’t want to put the book down anymore. I’m getting goosebumps just from writing this down!!

I really liked the dual perspective we get with both Norah and Adam’s points of view in the alternating chapters. It was incredible and truly touching to see how these two children, who were both in their own way hit with way too many obstacles in their young lives, are still thinking about their family so much. For both it was very imortant not to hurt anybody or put more pressure on them, and in doing so, they were in many ways taking their adult caretakers’ position in order not to add to their hardship. So young and so selfless!

Norah’s Ark is the story of two seemingly very different children who have surprisingly a lot in common. My heart truly went out to them both and I was feeling very emotional throughout. I loved the ending. Very satisfactory, in my opinion – well done to the author! I also loved that despite the big emotions and hard-hitting themes and tropes, Williamson managed to bring the point across with beautiful, but simple language. This will ensure that young readers can latch onto the characters and empathise with them from the start. Not to say this book isn’t suitable for adults – I really enjoyed it and think it’s suitable for all ages (younger children may need somebody to talk to about some of the themes though).

Another thing I have to mention that I absolutely love is that 20 percent of the royalties will be donated to the UK homelessness charity ‘Shelter’ – so if you are contemplating whether or not to get this book please do so. Not only will you get a superb read, you are also doing a good deed! Win win!!

I loved this read so much and can highly recommend it – 5 stars from me!

Thank you all so much for reading and please do let me know what you thought if you decide to pick it up!


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