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Away With Words

"This beautiful, compassionate story sees an uprooted girl and her selectively mute classmate form a life-changing friendship when they harness the magic of communication"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

May 2023 Book of the Month

Exploring the wonder of words and language, and the magic of friendship, Sophie Cameron’s Away with Words is a beautiful, inclusive marvel for 11+-year-olds. The writing is magic, too, with emotions conjured in synesthetic technicolour, for in this extraordinary story world, words take on a physical form when people speak. They fall from mouths, fly through the air, bounce off walls. And they’re collected, curated and gifted with transformative results, too.  

As for the story, after moving from Spain to Scotland so her papa and his boyfriend can be together, Gala feels ill at ease, out of sorts, and definitely not at home. While she’s befriended by the two Eilidhs in her class, Gala still feels on the outside. Struggling to understand English, and to be heard, she longs to return to Spain.   

Everything changes when Gala befriends Natalie, a girl who’s bullied for her selective mutism. Sparked by Natalie writing a beautiful poem to help Gala feel more at home (“Home is a treasure that can never be buried/A ship that can never be sunk/Pieces of gold, parts of the past. Away with maps – there’s a compass in your heart”), the girls decide to create uplifting anonymous poems to gift to classmates who are in need of support. For example, they write a poem about bravery to support a classmate who’s scared of an impending operation.  

In a cruel twist, while the girls’ words heal, words can also can hurt, as shown when someone starts sending nasty poems. As Gala and Natalie try to clear their names and work out who’s responsible, this empathy-filled novel reveals the value of being heard, the power of language, and what it means to feel at home.

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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Very unusual story but definitely worth a read.

I found this a bit strange at first, but once I just accepted it and went with the flow I loved it.
The characters of Gala and Natalie are great. I love their friendship. I love the fact that both of them in different ways are struggling to talk but are still able to communicate with each other.
The way that words are described in this story is great. Depending on how the person who is saying them feels or says them makes the words change font style and colour, some of them even being glittery.
The story is a really good one too, basically saying that it is a good idea to watch what is going on around you and notice things, because things aren’t always what they seem and everyone has their own stories and things going on in their lives.... Read Full Review

Lily O’Dwyer

Gala joins a new school, and struggles to communicate until she makes a new friend. Together, they find an unusual way to use words to help others until someone hijacks their plans.

I really enjoyed this book because it is set in a world similar to ours just with one big difference: words appear when people speak them. This makes it really interesting because it alters the way people communicate. Gala has recently moved from Cadaques - in Spain - to Scotland to live with her dad and his new boyfriend. Gala joins a new school, and struggles to understand everyone as she isn't used to speaking English. Gala makes a friend who also finds communication difficult but, together, they find an unusual way to use words to help others. But when someone hijacks their plans and people’s feelings are hurt, the innocent friends find the finger pointing at them.... Read Full Review

Poppy Smithson-Zipfel

The complex yet easily-flowing plot is compelling, intriguing and fun to unleash readers' inner detective skills.

As Gala discovers the strange new Scottish world, so distant from her cherished Spanish home, she is unprepared to face the challenges of a foreign land, a new language and another school — a place filled with unforeseen words that ignite her inner creativity.

However, when feeling lost, alone and unable to express her true self, a classmate with selective mutism helps her to explore new possibilities after being befriended. Within a whirlwind of words that hold deep emotion, the pair find an importance in using others' speech to make a positive change: a difference: a new hope.

Consequently, their peers find joy in the anticipation of receiving a beacon-of-hope from the anonymous creators.... Read Full Review

Tessa Gobourn