I am so glad I read October, October by Katya Balen and illustrated by Angela Harding. It is a perfect middle grade book that not only brings us to a beautiful wild adventure, but also teaches us that it’s okay to be different. Thank you to Bloomsbury and LoveReading 4 Kids, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
October and her dad live in the woods. They live in a house that her dad built and enjoy the nature and the animals and the trees. They love the river and they love looking at the stars at night. It’s always been just the two of them, and that’s how it is.
And then October turns eleven. That’s the year she rescues a baby owl. That’s the year her dad fell from the tallest tree and was taken to hospital. The year when the woman who calls herself mother came back.
That’s when everything changes.
Through October’s passionate and, at the same time, innocent thoughts, we enter her world surrounded by wilderness and freedom. A child raised in the wild, whose life changes in a way she never deemed possible. She now has a new life that she needs to adjust to. But October doesn’t understand this. She doesn’t feel the need to adjust, because the wilderness is her home. Together with her dad. And now she lives in the city with this woman who calls herself mother, who tells her she needs to go to school, and who doesn’t approve of the baby owl.
“A pocket of people in a pocket of a world that’s small as a marble. We are tiny and we are everything and we are wild. We live in the woods.”
“Being wild and free is different for every person and every thing and it can be folded into the woods or whirling through the city streets. I know not everything has a perfect ending and I know that some things have a perfect place and that some things don’t and that all this can change anyway.”
With each paragraph and each chapter, I could feel October’s frustration. How her life is very unfair, and her questioning everything, trying to figure out why people want her to behave differently.
“What feels best isn’t always right, you know.”
This book resonated with me so much.
Perhaps because I was once in a similar situation to October as a child. I loved exploring the world from her point of view and I loved her wild personality. The relationship she has with her father was so precious. He understands her the most, and they get along together very well.
The story developed in a very nice way, and the ending was quite satisfying. Without giving anything away, I will just say that many characters realised many things by the end of the book. The learning journey they all went thought was very prominent and it left me with a melancholy, but also happy feeling. The ending felt very bittersweet.
“Sometimes it’s a kindness to let something go even when you love it very much.”
October, October is a beautifully written book about wilderness, happiness and freedom. The beautiful illustrations just add up to the writing and give a life to the story. I recommend it to both children and adults. A gem worth discovering!