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Reader Reviewed
Sal by Mick Kitson


Family Drama   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   Relationship Stories   
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March 2018 Debut of the Month

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

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.

  • Lindsey Whittle - 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.
  • Catherine Bryce - This is an excellent debut book by Mick Kitson.  It’s beautifully written and tells a lovely compelling story.
  • Sarah Webb - it’s an uplifting story, full of love and kindness and hope.
  • Alfred Nobile - 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.
  • Val Rowe - 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.
  • Louise Woods - 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.
  • Nicola Lowes - 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.
  • Adrienne Kinsella - 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.
  • Susan Wallace - 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.
  • Victoria Emerson - Just read it!
  • Suzanne James - 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.
  • Alison Layland - 'A heartwarming, captivating coming-of-age story about various facets of survival.'
  • Cathy Small - A beautiful story of Sal’s protection of her younger sister written from her own viewpoint.
  • Peter - A book of survival in every sense of the word.
  • Kate Thacker - I was very quickly captivated by this read and the power it showed. Brilliant.
  • Catherine Jenkins - 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.
  • Sabine Little - 'An intelligent, beautiful, and sometimes harrowing book, which will stay with me for a long time.'


Sal by Mick Kitson

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.


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'

About the Author

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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Book Info

Publication date

1st March 2018


Mick Kitson

More books by Mick Kitson
Author 'Like for Like'


Canongate Books Ltd


240 pages


Family Drama
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
Relationship Stories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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