Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari is a teen/YA novel about a teenage girl, Kite, and the emotional journey she has to take when confronted with the suicide of her best friend, Dawn.
Kite and Dawn have been best friends since their first day in nursery school. Thinking of themselves as sisters, Kite living above Dawn in their block of flats, they do everything together – until the day Kite goes to take her first GCSE exam and Dawn isn’t there. Dawn has taken an overdose of sleeping pills and left Kite forever.
The story is written from Kite’s point of view as she tries to make sense of what her friend has done and why. Kite’s bereavement makes her question everything about her own life. The axis around which her whole life has been built up to now is her friendship with Dawn. Can she really believe they were friends when Dawn didn’t confide in her, and now Kite is left alone? She questions everything about her life and tears herself apart wondering if she could have done something to save Dawn.
In the meantime, Kite’s friends and family are worried about saving her.
Her father, Seth, takes Kite on a trip to an amazing glass house in the Lake District, where he has been sent to get on with writing the music for his next album. Kite needs to reconnect with herself and the life outside of her head, and learn to mourn for Dawn in a healthy way. Can she do it in this wild place?
Brahmachari is particularly strong on the subject of bereavement. Her first book, Artichoke Hearts, which I have reviewed here, deals with a young girl learning to say goodbye to and mourn for her terminally ill grandmother. It is handled with a great deal of sensitivity and an empathy that Brahmachari brings equally to bear on the question of teenage suicide, and what happens to those who are left behind.
The book is thoughtful, empathetic without being syrupy and over sentimental, and beautifully written. There is a list of helpline numbers and addresses in the back of the book for those who have gone through or who are going through similar things, and I thought that the book would make an excellent help/guide in these kind of circumstances, as the character of Kite is so well drawn you cannot help caring about her.
The book is suitable for girls rather than boys, dealing as it does with a strong friendship between two girls, and also having a romance element in the story which would probably only appeal to girls. I would recommend it for girls aged twelve and up, due to the sensitive nature of the material.