Where the river takes us

Lesley Parr

A story of friendship, coping with grief and a big cat seen in the Welsh Valleys.

This superb third novel by Lesley Parr has much to recommend to middle-grade readers. It is set in 1974, which as an adult reader makes for a trip down memory lane, with copious references to food of the time as well as the more serious issues of dealing with power cuts and the financial effect of three-day working weeks. The story is told in the first person by Jason who lives with his older brother Richie. They are recently orphaned so money is tight. A reward of £100 for a photo of a wildcat inspires Jason and his friends to embark on a quest to be the first to find it. What follows is the tale of a group of friends who have the freedom to roam through the countryside. They dodge ferocious bulls as well as the unpleasant Gary and Dean, whilst learning about themselves, and each other.

This is a book which packs a punch: difficult emotions are not shied away from but are treated sensitively and with a light touch.

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 16th March 2023 (320 pages)

Reviewed by Rachel Bolton