What the World Doesn’t See
By Mel Darbon
What it’s about?
Run away from what they see. Discover who you are.
Maudie and Jake’s family is falling to pieces – their mum’s been struggling with her grief since they lost Dad and one night she vanishes. When Jake is put into care, Maudie can’t take it any more. She comes up with a wild plan to pull their family back together – by kidnapping Jake. On the run in Cornwall, Jake and Maudie each find something they hadn’t expected – freedom and love. But can they find Mum and a way to heal together?
A powerful and insightful novel about grief, disability and first love; a story about getting lost and finding yourself.
What I think:
Finding books that represent disability and neurodiversity has been a priority for my classroom library this year. And What the World Doesn’t See is a wonderful addition.
I can honestly say I felt every emotion while reading this book.
As a mum, I had so much empathy for Maudie and Jake’s mother. Grieving for husband and taking care of two children, including Jake, who has complex learning difficulties, has taken its toll, and she has hit rock bottom. In desperation, she calls her sister to come and look after the children and disappears.
Teenage Maudie is left to pick up the pieces of this crisis. Struggling with school and caring for Jake, who can not cope without routines, Maudie relies on her best friend for support. While her friends are worrying about romance, clubbing, and college applications, Maudie has much bigger concerns.
When her aunt arranges for Jake to go to some respite specialist foster care, Maudie is devastated. She has already lost her parents and can not stand the thought of losing Jake. She does not see herself as a carer, only a sister.
She comes up with a plan to ‘kidnap’ Jake and take him away from foster care. Hoping to shock her mum into returning and prove to everyone that she is capable of looking after Jake, Maudie heads to Cornwall, where she finds support in the kindness of strangers.
This book highlights the challenges families face when caring for disabled teenagers and the problems they experience when out in public. There are some incredibly cruel and insensitive reactions to Jake and his meltdowns. He is definitely an easy taregt for some spiteful and judgemental responses from strangers.
Maudie is so good at calling out this behaviour and by doing educates some people along the way.
There is also so much joy in this book. The love between Jake and Maudie and the close relationship they share is beautifully done. The scenes written from Jake’s perspective shows how insightful he can be and what he observes about other people without really understanding what it means.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s great teen/YA – well written with empathetic characters. It will definitely be going on my classroom bookshelf.
About the author:
Mel Darbon spent a large part of her childhood inventing stories to keep her brother, who had learning disabilities, happy on car journeys. Having worked as a theatre designer and freelance artist, as well as teaching young adults with learning disabilities and running creative workshops for teenage mums, young offenders and toddlers, Mel now writes young adult novels. She is a graduate of Bath Spa’s MA in Writing For Young People, where she found a channel to give voice to young people who otherwise might not be heard. Her first book, Rosie Loves Jack, was a World Book Night selection, nominated for the Carnegie, shortlisted for the Branford Boase, and was a Read for Empathy Collection Choice, chosen by EmpathyLab. It won theMalka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature in America.
Thank you Kaleidoscopic Tours for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful blog tour and giving me the opportunity to share this fantastic book