Review: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…
A beautiful, lyrical, uplifting story about a mother, a daughter, and love – with timely themes of the importance of science and the environment.

I’ve read a lot of Kiran Millwood Hargrave books across different ages, and I’ve liked them all a lot. Loved them, even. But none have captured my heart like Julia and the Shark did. There was something else about this book that made it feel like it was the story Kiran and Tom are trying to tell. It was told from the heart, from the centre of their souls. If you didn’t know, Kiran and Tom are a wife and husband team and I love that. Tom is an artist and he illustrated this book, and there’s something about the emotion in it that really shows.

This is a middle grade story about a girl called Julia who moves to an island off the coast of Scotland because her mum is in search of a Greenland shark. But this story is about so much more than that. It’s about family and mental health and adventure. It’s about growing up.

That’s another thing about words: there’s space in them. They change according to whose mouth they’re coming out of. 

I read this with my friend Alex, and she said this book reminded her of A Monster Calls, and I completely see why she felt that way. There was so much emotion crammed within these pages, these beautiful words. I flew through this book in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down, especially after the first half.

I was a little hesitant at first how much this book would discuss mental health, and it was a bit darker than I expected. However, I do think this one handles depression for children in a really approachable way. It’s sad, and it’s difficult, but it’s real. I did find myself getting so emotional while reading, but it was also so full of hope and light that I loved the ending.

Sometimes they change so much in mine they become something else entirely, but Dad says these are called lies.

This book was just so beautiful and so easy to fall in love with. It has quickly become one of those books I would recommend to anybody, and feels so very needed.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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