‘She is silent now because she is ten and she learns five new words a day and puts them in a sentence, but she has not yet reached the words for this…’
Ten years old and irrepressibly curious, Ellie lives with her fisherman father, Peter, on the wild North Yorkshire coast. It’s the 1980s and her mother’s breakdown is discussed only in whispers, with the promise ‘better by Christmas’ and no further explanation.
Steering by the light of her dad’s sea-myths, her mum’s memories of home across the water, and a fierce spirit all her own, Ellie begins to learn – in these sudden, strange circumstances – who she is and what she can become. By the time the first snowdrops show, her innocence has been shed, but at great cost.
This vivacious and deeply moving novel portrays adult breakdown through the eyes of a brightly imaginative child, sensitively explores questions of responsibility and care, and, above all, celebrates the power of stories to shape, nourish and even save us.