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The Space We’re In

‘I am ten and Max is five.’ You wonder why a book opens with these words, but as as you read further it become apparent these are very powerful words in the life of Frank, as he negotiates his way through the many aspects of life with a brother who is on the Autism spectrum and a life that goes terribly, terribly wrong.

Katya Balen has written The Space We’re In in an emotional and captivating manner as she details, in diary format, the days of Franks life, as he counts down to the important events in his family’s life.

Max is due to begin school and needs to have new shoes: so too does Frank, but it is not a simple event as Max hates people touching his feet! Max can make a meltdown become something spectacular, particularly when things in his world do not go right.

As the days draw closer to the beginning of school, there seems to be something wrong in the balance of family life. His beloved mother is not well. She is the anchor in Franks life; she is an artist who can create the stars, the moon, galaxies, his world, in massive paintings. But she is no longer painting as since Max was born, she no longer has time. Now she has terrible headaches and is at the Doctors and hospital a lot.

As the days march steadily onwards tragedy strikes the family with everyone, including his Dad having a major ‘meltdown’ except Max, who seems to be coping better than anyone else.

Katya Balen captures, day by day, the very real elements of grief and a family struggling to cope with the unimaginable. As Frank withdraws into his own world, it is heartbreaking to see how a young child copes with loss, to eventually emerge to discover that a new version of family has been created.

One year on, and also the final chapter, the writing is very telling, perfect, full of real emotion, acceptance and understanding. The age range for The Space We’re In is unlimited as it reaches out to everyone who is coping with change, challenge and acceptance.

As the story is told through the eyes and emotions of a ten-year-old the message reaches across barriers, rich and full of understanding of the many challenges faced by so many in the world of today.

As a debut novel from Katya Balen it is an absolutely stunning first venture.

Author Katya Balen
Publisher Bloomsbury Childrens Books
ISBN 9781526601957
Distributor Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Released November 2019