My book review of 'The Closest Thing to Flying' by Gill Lewis

The Closest Thing to Flying

by Gill Lewis
Recommended age: 8+
The Closest Thing to Flying
by Gill Lewis

Semira came to England with her mother when she was four. It had been a terrifying journey, an escape from their troubled home in Eritrea. Once in London, though, Semira and her mother are under the control of Robol who dictates their every move.

One day Semira finds a diary, written in the 19th century, by a girl called Henrietta. It reveals another world to Semira, a time of animal rights and votes for women, and riding bicycles. Hen also feels trapped in her life as she sees how her Aunt Kitty is being held back from following her dreams and calling.

Reading about Hen's life through her diary, gives Semira the courage to stand for what's right, and for her place in the world, to make friendships and to build a future for her and her mother.

This is a stunning book. The characters leap off the page. The complexity of their lives is handled lightly and sensitively, raising a desire in the reader to find out more about the issues being faced. Ultimately, though, the message is one of the power of kindness, courage and friendship, and how to bring about change.

Gill Lewis is an award-winning writer who came to children's books after a career as a vet and working in Africa. She uses her knowledge of animals and conservation to infuse all her books, and I regularly recommend her first book, 'Sky Hawk' about a rare bird of prey discovered by a group of children in Scotland and tracked in its migration to Africa. I hope you'll give her books a try.

Review date: January 2021