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The Light in Everything

Written by Katya Balen

Illustrated by Sydney Smith

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The Light in Everything Review

Books of the Month Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

A glowing story about learning to find room in your heart for new life and new love,

April 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022

No two children could be more different than Zofia and Tom. Noisy Zofia lives happily with her dad as her Mum died when she was born. She buzzes with a wild energy that makes her irresistible but also something of a handful. Quiet, anxious Tom lives with his mum. He is full of fears largely caused by his scarily violent father who is now in prison. He longs to be more outgoing but doesn’t know how to manage it.

They are about to start living together and also to become half siblings to a new baby in a blended family that neither of them wants to be part of. Each tells their story in a series of contrasting short episodes that brilliantly capture their contrasting characters and their journey towards this enormous change in their lives.

Kayta Balen has a rare gift for understanding what it feels like to be a child and creating characters that reflect that that vividly.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

Julia Eccleshare's Picks for April 2022

The Smile by Marie Voigt 

A Song In the Mist by Corrinne Averiss

Small's Big Dream by Manjeet Mann

The Fears You Fear by Rachel Rooney

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard by Nizrana Farook

One Time by Sharon Creech

The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson

The Light In Everything by Katya Balen

The Light in Everything Synopsis

Tom is still quiet and timid, even though his dad has been in gone for nearly two years now. Zofia is the opposite. Inside her there's a raging storm that makes her want to fight the whole world until she gets what she wants. And what she wants is for scaredy-cat Tom to get out of her life. Tom hates loud, unpredictable Zofia just as much, but he's moving into Zofia's house. Because his mum and Zofia's dad are in love ... and they're having a baby.

Tom and Zofia both wish the stupid baby had never happened. But then Tom's mum gets ill, and it begins to look horribly like their wish might come true ...

A story of learning to trust, trying to let go and diving into the unknown with hope in your heart.

The Light in Everything Press Reviews

‘This is Balen's best book yet: ambitious, funny, spirited, moving, heartfelt and bold all at once. She's a force to be reckoned with.’ Ross Montgomery

‘I loved this book!’ Hilary McKay

‘A bold, bright story of blended families, and how two remarkable children cope when their lives change dramatically. Katya Balen’s writing fizzes with her trademark originality and voice. This is another stunningly good read from one of my favourite authors.’ Emma Carroll

‘I absolutely LOVE all Katya's writing and I adored reading this book. It's such a beautiful, subtle story which just transported me into the worlds of Zofia and Tom and like all the very finest stories it has left a little shard of those lives within it lodged deep in my heart.’ Sophie Kirtley

'This story literally took me by storm. A brave heart-dive into the deep emotions of Tom and Zofia, it’s beautifully told with care and tenderness.’ Jasbinder Bilan

‘Katya Balen is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. This is a beautiful book that will capture you from the first page. An incredible book by an incredible writer. I loved it.’ Lisa Thompson

‘I loved this book. The deftness with which Katya creates such passionate, funny, broken, brave characters. What an achievement. Katya Balen can break your heart and make you snort with laughter in the same sentence.’ Natasha Farrant

‘A sensitive story about stitching a new family together from frayed pieces. So vividly-imagined you can taste the salt in the air.’ Aisha Bushby

‘Once again Balen shows how brilliant she is at taking unlikable characters and, by perfectly delineating with utmost clarity every mood, feeling, thought, emotion and event they go through, leading the reader to a place of love and understanding and acceptance. The Light in Everything is a moving, truthful, unflinching close up of a story, that proves how difficult it can be being a human among other humans, but how rewarding too when you allow yourself the space to breathe. Leonard Cohen was right, of course, there is a crack in everything.’ AF Harrold

‘Heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure – warm, compassionate, insightful, lyrical, beautiful and uplifting.’ Catherine Bruton

Praise for October, October;

Katya Balen's October, October is a very special new addition to the shelf and deserves classic status - Times Children's Book of the Week

Quite simply one of the most beautiful books I've ever read - Kiran Millwood Hargrave

October, October is fierce with a wild love. It draws you in to its heart, shakes you with a fury, wraps you in a spell of storytelling. In lyrical prose, Katya Balen gives us a modern day heroine filled with courage. I loved every page. - Jackie Morris

Wise and bright - I loved it. - Hilary McKay

It's EXQUISITE. Read it. Wild yourself. Open your heart to it. Written with the pen of a poet and the soul of Mother Earth. Glorious. It's like nothing else I've ever read. - Liz Hyder

The most wonderful, original treasure of a story - Emma Carroll 

I've also just been introduced to the first two stunning children's books by Katya Balen, both published by Bloomsbury: The Space We're In and October, October. If you have a middle-grader, or know one, or are one ... treat yourself -- Daniel Hahn - Books of the Year, The Spectator

One of the most beautiful children's books I've ever read - Natasha Farrant 

A tear-jerker about family that shows us things that are important and true, and promotes compassion -- Nicolette Jones - The Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week

Praise for The Space We're In;

This sensitive, heartbreaking story boasts a wonderful narrative voice and secret codes that add another layer of intrigue - Guardian

Now and then, and only now and then, a book changes us. The Space We're In does that. It's ferocious and it's visionary. - Kevin Crossley-Holland

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781526622990
Publication date: 14/04/2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781526622990
Publication date: 14th April 2022
Author: Katya Balen
Illustrator: Sydney Smith
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 336 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Julia Eccleshare's Picks
Collections: 20 Kids Books that celebrate Family Diversity, 2022 Book Preview: Must Read Books To Look Forward To,

About Katya Balen

Katya Balen read English at university and then completed an MPhil researching the impact of stories on autistic children's behaviour. She has worked in a variety of special-needs schools and is the co-founder of Mainspring Arts - a not-for-profit organisation that provides creative opportunities for neurodivergent adults.

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