How will they ever be friends, let alone sisters?
"You might be older than me, Maya," she hisses, "in years. But I know more about everything than you do. You haven't even been on a bus on your own. You can't even fry without a grown-up."
Now I'm stinging. Cat's cold empty eyes are staring at me, as if I'm an x-ray in a hospital and she can see right through to the soft bit in my bones.
"You don't have any secrets," she says, with her twisted smile, "you're too scared to have secrets, Maya. Scared of getting caught and told off by your mummy. There's nothing private about your life. You're splashed and painted everywhere."
'I do have a secret," I say, "I do!"
Two girls with two very different lives come together in this beautiful and moving story of friendship and family. Meet Maya. She has a cosy, comfy life with her slightly hippy mum and dad by the sea in Cornwall. But as an only child, Maya feels smothered by her parents' love and longs to be a given more freedom and independence; but what Maya wants more than anything is a sister. Meet Cat. She's never known her dad and her mum's an alcoholic and is not capable of looking after herself, let alone her 10 year old daughter. Cat's spent her life protecting her mum and keeping some dark secrets; all she wants is to be left alone. But Cat and Maya's worlds collide when Cat is taken into care and Maya's parents make the life-changing decision to adopt her. Maya can't wait to welcome Cat into the family and hopes that by having a sister, her parents might learn to 'chill out' and give Maya a bit more freedom. But Cat is angry and resentful and resists Maya's attempts at friendship and soon Maya's idea of a perfect family is blown out of the water. As tensions rise and secrets are shared the question on everyone's lips is; how will they ever be friends, let alone sisters?
I was stunned and excited to received an email late the other night telling me that the Cornish Adoption Service have made my latest book, A Sea of Stars, required reading for all prospective adoptive families in Cornwall. I’d been sitting for a few weeks, biting my nails, waiting for feedback and reviews to roll in but this news far exceeded my expectations.
Veronica Yates, manager of the team said: “ I read your book last night and once started I could not put it down. FANTASTIC! It will now be on our required reading list for prospective adoptive parents. I cannot believe how accurate you have got not only Cat’s feelings but also Maya’s and her parents. I am going to let all the other adoption agencies about it.”
I decided to write, A Sea of Stars, after reading an article on adoption in a Sunday paper. I kept looking at all the little faces shining out; longing for a family, so badly needing to be loved and something just pinged in my heart. I knew this was a story that needed to be told.
Whilst researching my book I spoke to many social workers, adoption agencies and to families who had adopted children. And wherever I went the message was the same. Adoption can be a challenging process for all concerned, not just for the adopted child. So that got me thinking about families in general and how being a sibling, blood related or not, can be a challenging process too. I wanted my story to be a truthful portrayal, not a happy ever after tale, and so on Veronica’s advice I decided to tell it from the point of view of Maya, the daughter of the parents adopting, rather Cat, the girl being adopted. I wanted to weave a story of sisterhood that showed how to navigate these challenges by relating with them. I wanted to present the possibility of love and hate holding hands and existing side by side, because in most sibling groups, both are true. I wanted to show that family life is never perfect but when the chips are down love is much thicker than blood.
Praise for A Sea of Stars...
I read your book last night and once started I could not put it down. FANTASTIC!
It will now be on our required reading list for prospective adoptive parents. I can not believe how accurate you have got not only Cat’s feelings but also Maya’s and her parents. I am going to let all the other adoption agencies about it. I would love to meet you at sometime. XXX
Adoption Service Manager, Children's Social Work & Psychology Services, Cornwall Council
More lovely words...
Just read A Sea of Stars. What a page turner. However, I do not think that your books are not just for girls. I think adults should read them to see how their choices and fears can affect the children around them. The voices you find for your young girls are very strong. Brilliant writing. xxx
Clea Williams, Head of English and Drama, Nore Dame Prep School, Cobham