The eponymous teenage heroine of Mick Kitson’s debut novel, who is on the run from the drab, chaotic lives of her alcoholic mother and her ‘Maw’s’ drug-dealing partner, steps into another world in Scotland’s last wilderness.
Kitson’s ability to combine the mundane and harrowing with an uplifting, giddy traipse through the great outdoors, with characters who take you with them, belies the fact this is his first venture into fiction.
Despite the odd jarring note and some patchy moments, he succeeds in giving voice to the troubled narrator and in handling her sometimes upsetting story.
He captures the stillness, peace and beauty of her new surroundings and some joyous experiences as Sal and her sister battle hunger and cold, and shake off some old horrors.
Armed with her Bear Grylls knife, YouTube education on the wild, and the SAS Survival Guide, Sal desperately tries to come up with a blueprint for her family’s survival.
Along the way she has to find out if she is as adept at using her own streetwise, survival handbook to confront and escape life’s traps as she is at setting snares in the woods.
An inventive, memorable and soul-stirring read.