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by Mick Kitson

Debut Books of the Month Debuts Family Drama Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories

LoveReading View on Sal

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 and one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson

Sal Synopsis


This is a story of something like survival. Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. 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.

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

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 Press Reviews

Kitson writes clearly and concisely . . . The girls' capability, humanity and humour are inspiring and wonderful. Sal is an ambitious and skilled novel. Literature needs more stories like this -- JENNI FAGAN -

Guardian -

Atmospheric . . . Distinctive . . . A vivid, moving tale about the strength of sisterhood and the struggle to survive -- Anita Sethi -

Observer -

Kitson inhabits the girls' voices with credible authenticity . . . This short, impressive debut is an uplifting tale of survival, shot through with humour, compassion and humanity -

Mail on Sunday -

Powered by Sal's innate sense of justice and her fierce love for her sweary, show-stealing sister, this original, bittersweet tale effortlessly beguiles -

Daily Mail -

Incredibly engaging . . . Mick Kitson's depiction of the siblings' relationship is spot on, as is his description of the beauties of the natural world as seen through Sal's eyes . . . [A] gutsy debut -

Sunday Express -

Sal is an inspiring novel that feels honest and fastidious. It introduces the theme of redemption and fresh beginnings without shying from the awful truth -

Financial Times -

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 A striking and stark debut novel . . . Beautifully done -- Stuart Kelly -

Scotland on Sunday -

Endearing . . . A wake-up call about how society fails women in poverty, with Sal's precocious ability to fend for herself ultimately standing in for her ability to survive the misery at the book's heart -

Metro -

Daring and original . . . Manages to feel both contemporary and timeless, both heart-rending and uplifting . . . Sal deserves to be one of this year's hits -

Observer -

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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: 9781786891914
Publication date: 3rd January 2019
Author: Mick Kitson
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 240 pages
Genres: Debuts of the Month, Debuts, Family Drama, Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

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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