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by Mick Kitson

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Debuts eBooks of the Month Family Drama Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories Star Books

LoveReading View on Sal

March 2018 Debut of the Month| Saltire Literary Awards 2018 First Book Winner 

Just gorgeous… this is an emotional and quite, quite beautiful read. After a particularly traumatic time at home, 13 year old Sal and her younger sister Peppa escape into the wilds of Scotland. Sal has spent a long time preparing, the wilderness beckons them, can they survive on their own? Sal tells their story, the first chapter is so clever, I started to realise what had been happening, and then a few carefully chosen, yet almost casually thrown away words, sent a shockwave running through me. I could clearly hear Sal’s voice, she is so individual and distinctive, her words entered my mind and expanded, filling my heart. Mick Kitson encourages the Scottish countryside to sing with intensity, while you can hear Sal, you can see and feel the clean and natural space she and Peppa find themselves in. Kindness flows from unexpected places, and love is behind every word shared by Sal, even in the darkness. Simple, beautiful, provocative yet touching, this is an outstanding debut, and a read I will return to again and again. Highly recommended.

Liz Robinson

Sal Synopsis

This is a story of something like survival. Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs and a first aid kit from Amazon using credit cards she'd robbed. She read the SAS Survival Handbook and watched loads of YouTube videos. And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her. Told in Sal's distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, Sal is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things.

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Win a copy of A Double Life plus £50 of Waterstones vouchers!

Closing date: 15/05/2021

We're working with The Borough Press to offer a copy of A Double Life by Charlotte Philby and £50 in Waterstones vouchers! "With hovering suspense and intrigue, A Double Life is a provocative and stimulating novel." Liz Robinson, Expert Reviewer This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 16th May 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

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Sal Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

It’s an uplifting story, full of love and kindness and hope. Full review

Sarah Webb

A beautifully told, gripping story, of a young girl's escape, with her little sister, from a horrific home situation and how they survive in the wilds of Scotland. Full review

Susan Wallace

Brilliant! Read it in one go, couldn't put it down. Will stay with me for a long time. Surviving life, not just how to live in a forest. Full review

Lindsey Whittle

This is an excellent debut book by Mick Kitson. It’s beautifully written and tells a lovely compelling story. Full review

Catherine Bryce

An absolute little treasure of a novel - quirky, unique and beautifully narrated. I hope that this will be the first of many novels from Mick Kitson. Full review

Val Rowe

Wow, what an amazing little book. It grabbed me from the first page and kept me hooked right up to the last word, I got completely lost in Sal's story. Full review

Louise Woods

I was very quickly captivated by this read and the power it showed. Brilliant! Full review

Kate Thacker

A sad, harrowing tale of survival that's also memorable and wonderfully compelling. Sal has been like a substitute mother to her sister Pippa and will do anything to protect her. Full review

Adrienne Kinsella

An honest story about an intelligent and capable 13 year old, Sal, who takes the appalling conditions she is living under and tries to make them better in a radical way. I would definitely recommend this. Full review

Nicola Lowes

Just read it! Full review

Victoria Emerson

An intelligent, beautiful, and sometimes harrowing book, which will stay with me for a long time. Full review

Sabine Little

A heartwarming, captivating coming-of-age story about various facets of survival. Full review

Alison Layland

A beautiful story of Sal’s protection of her younger sister written from her own viewpoint. Full review

Cathy Small

An excellent companion to have on the road to self-discovery and survival, with a feisty heroine who deserves to earn her place in the annals of literary explorers. Full review

Catherine Jenkins

It is a book filled with well drawn characters, who leap off the page fully formed and into to your mind with their stories to tell. And what fascinating stories they are. Full review

Alfred Nobile

A book of survival in every sense of the word Full review


Sal is a beautifully written tale - funny, sad & inspiring, you can't help but be drawn to the brave girl who risks everything for her sister. Full review

Suzanne James

Sal Press Reviews

Just wonderful. A breath of fresh air in a book. Sal is a story with incredible heart, told so beautifully and with such clarity and grace I can hardly believe it's a debut! I loved it -- JOANNA CANNON, author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP

Sal is spellbinding, that rare gem of a novel that effortlessly explores what it is to be a human existing in an often brittle and unkind world. Sal's voice is one of the most compelling I've read in a long time. A luminous debut -- SARAH SCHMIDT, author of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE

Sal is a triumph. It's a modern adventure story of siblings on the run in 'the Last Great Wilderness of Scotland. But it's much, much, more than this. Sal, and her sister Peppa, are vivid and compelling - their relationship and their voices ring utterly true. Shot through with deft humour and a humane, sometimes harrowing, honesty, Kitson's characters will stay with me for a very long time -- JESS KIDD, author of HIMSELF

A genuinely wondrous novel, combining the beautiful rural detail of an Arthur Ransome adventure with a touching story of sisterhood and family trauma. The descriptions of the Scottish landscape are so resonant you can smell the pine needles. It's been a long time since I've felt this involved with a character and her struggle -- KEITH STUART, author of A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS'

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786891914
Publication date: 03/01/2019
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781786891877
Publication date: 01/03/2018
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786891877
Publication date: 1st March 2018
Author: Mick Kitson
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Debuts, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Star Books,

About Mick Kitson

Mick Kitson was born in South Wales, and studied English at university before launching the prolific 80s pop band, The Senators, with his brother Jim. He worked as a journalist for several years, then went on to become an English teacher. Mick lives in Fife, Scotland with his wife Jill and bad-tempered dog Lucy. He has three grown-up children, and spends more time than is good for him fly fishing for sea trout, reading, playing the banjo and growing strawberries. He also builds boats. Sal is his first novel.

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