The Girl With Space in Her Heart -Lara Williamson

This is not quite what I was expecting and I think this added to my enjoyment, I cared enough about the characters to laugh and cry and particular points and was swept into the drama of it all.

I’m not usually one for contemporary unless it has a twist, especially of fantasy, but this has enough of a magical hook to make me sit up and listen and I’m so glad I did.

The Girl With Space in Her Heart is a beautiful exploration of mental health, the gaps in support and understanding and how anxiety can spiral and the importance of talking and sharing worries within the home, between friends and seeking help rather than bottling things up.

Book cover for The Girl With Space In Her Heart
Cover illustration by Julie McLaughlin

Mabel Mynt has Space in Her Heart; a love of Astronomy since devouring an old book her father gave her and the biting absence of him since he disappeared without a word or trace.

Her mother is moving on, no more crying in her dressing gown, she has found Gavin; whom Mabel is very fond of as he is a kind and thoughtful man who also loves Space, but her big sister Topaz thinks he’s a Galactic sized disaster and believes she has proof that Gavin is a two-timing heartbreaker like the men in her romance novels.

Mabel feels torn between her worries for her mum, her sister, where her dad has gone, is she betraying her dad by liking Gavin and then why the new girl is so mean and grumpy too. Mabel is picking up her troubles in a metaphorical suitcase but she isn’t smiling, and things are getting even weightier.

I considered it all day Friday and then over the weekend and realised that I need to prove to Topaz that what’s under Gavin’s surface is one hundred per cent nice. For what it’s worth, I don’t think he could be marrying Blonde Ponytail Woman like Terrible Topaz said because he’s always telling Mum he loves her. He says it every time he visits. He says it Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and weekends too.

I’ll be honest, from the blurb and the cover I was expecting a coming of age story with an older protagonist, and instead I got a beautiful youthful family drama. Mabel’s age is never quite revealed but we know she is in primary school and she is very innocent so likely younger than 10, her voice is very sweet, an older teen reader may find her naivety bordering on obtuse at times but you will find as the story meanders along, those misunderstandings and mistakes reflect back some of the issues of the story.

Mabel is blissfully ignorant of some of the struggles around her partially due to her age and innocence and partially due to being wrapped up in her own problems. So the latter softens criticism of Mabel but also casts a non judgemental mirror back at the reader as to whether they do not notice those of others and that indeed everyone around us has their own worries to differing degrees of coping, or not.

And as Mabel uncovers these as more complicated than simple truths or lies she begins to realise she isn’t so alone and to start talking and sharing which is incredibly powerful to advocating positive mental health.

There’s no eye that can see
That suitcase of mine
I wish I was free
I wish I was fine
I know what’s inside
The worries are there
It’s heavy to carry
It feels so unfair

There are some very interesting points in The Girl With Space In Her Heart that deal with mental health as the reader will uncover and the ways that people, in this case thanks to the characters often how women cope with worries and depression, but sneaks in there with men at the end in how they tend to cover up or avoid the problem. This I found a very powerful little addition for readers in a world where toxic masculinity is prevalent, it shows how men worry too and that a worry shared is a lifeline and often a worry lifted.

But her face was all sad
And each time I asked something more
She’d get cross or look to the floor
Or stick SHUT UP right under my nose
I don’t understand Dolly Rose

The sections with her disastrous attempts to make friends with Dolly Rose and the conversations between Mabel and Topaz add much tender sweetness and comedy understanding the ups and downs of female relationships, but with a hopeful mindset.

There is much humour sprinkled throughout this lovely story from delicious business puns, Yes Lets, Bread Pitt, Bonnie Tiler, Jean Claude Van Man and so forth which brings a lightness and joy to a heartfelt and tender story about learning to open up and also open your eyes to others feelings too.

The Girl With Space in Her Heart by Lara Williamson is published by Usborne

8 thoughts on “The Girl With Space in Her Heart -Lara Williamson

    1. It’s very good and carefully thought out – promotes talking instead of bottling up, but also is strong for consideration of others & shows how everyone has their own struggles some more public & some hide it better than others but not in a shaming ‘think of others before yourself’ way, more like a ‘you’re not alone’ way as Mabel feels earlier in the book.
      It strongly recommends honesty by parents as something huge has been hidden from the girls with massive consequences, ie ‘telling lies to ‘protect’ can hurt much more than the truth’

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say it’s 8/9 and up (I reckon Mabel is in Year 4/5 but her age is never said ) there’s a few perilous bits, a reveal of bullying and the dad’s whereabouts could be upsetting or uplifting for some depending on personality (DM me on Twitter if you want a spoiler)

      Liked by 1 person

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