*For Welsh review, see language toggle switch*
♥Children's Book of the Month April 2023 ♥
(suggested) reading age: 15+
(suggested) interest age: 15+
This is Casia Wiliam's first novel for Young Adults 16+. It is the raw love story of Leia and Sam, which is also a story about community, learning, venturing and forgiveness. The story begins at the community centre, where Leia and Sam meet again after being kept apart for some time.
Megan Angharad Hunter’s quote on the cover of Casia Wiliam’s first YA novel couldn’t be more perfect – this really is a 'cwtsh' of a novel with warm and real characters.
The novel’s protagonist, Leia, works in a community centre (due to Community Service), a location naturally rich in diverse characters, each one making their own mark on Leia’s life – Sarah Lloyd the art tutor is a particular favourite of mine. “Why is she doing Community Service?” I hear you ask. That is gradually revealed, as well as more information about Leia and her friends from their primary school years to their present through a series of flash-back chapters. It would have been nice for a couple of the characters from Leia’s past to reappear in her present, but this not happening didn’t leave any gaps in the story.
Casia Wiliam’s writing seems effortlessly vivid; within a few pages I felt like I knew Leia and I wanted nothing but the best for her. That said, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with Leia, feeling everything from pride to frustration, hope to relief, heartbreak to love, fear to excitement. In the last few chapters you’ll find yourself wanting to scream at Leia asking, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” before realising that really you want to give her an enormous hug and lots of encouragement.
During the first few chapters I was reminded a bit of the BBC’s recent series Outlaws – I wonder if Casia was a fan of the series? But never mind that, I think that Leia’s story would make a fantastic TV series or film, something warm to watch during the dark winter, perhaps.
Sêr y Nos yn Gwenu is a brilliant novel, you won't regret reading it. More like this please, Casia!