The sky is mine by Amy Beashel
Rock the Boat, 2020. ISBN: 9781786075550.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. This is a powerful, raw and confronting story of a young girl struggling to find her way, assaulted and blackmailed by the school bully, ensnared by the manipulations of her step-father, and witness to the humiliation and abuse of her mother. This book cries out to be read - Beashel captures the voice of Izzy so well, her pent up feelings, her loneliness, and the fear, walking on eggshells around stepfather Daniel, the Clooney look-alike, who won over her mother and then gradually bent them both to his will. Izzy can still remember her father, from early in her childhood, the man who was so pleased to see her, calling her his 'sunshine'. The jar of broken yellow beads is all she has to remember him by. Everything else has been gradually stripped away. And even that precious jar becomes a weapon that Daniel will use against her.
Beashel paints a very realistic picture of domestic violence and child sexual abuse - how becoming a victim to one person leads to a path of victimhood that is extremely difficult to escape. Whilst Daniel is the perpetrator, Izzy is also alienated from her mother because of the sense of betrayal, and her mother's failure to protect. She carries a shame she is unable to reveal and share with others, even her closest friend.
There is a positive ending, and it is thanks to the women who run refuge homes for battered women and their children. With time and space, Izzy is able to find her inner strength and look up to the sky.
These are serious themes, but the writing is beautiful, and easily pulls you into Izzy's world. I am sure that anyone who has experienced any of these things will find strength from reading how Izzy finds her way out. Others will gain a better understanding and empathy for the survivors . . . and especially realise the importance of being a good friend. At the end there is a list of UK and US support services. It would have been good to include Australian services as well. There is also a list of interesting questions for discussion.
Themes: Domestic violence, Sexual abuse, Cyberbullying.