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27 May 2012

The Puzzle Master by Heather Spiva

Being asked to review a writer’s work is always a privilege and never more so than with Heather Spiva’s YA novel, The Puzzle Master.

What’s the secret of writing for a teenage market?  Don’t lecture, don’t patronise – but top of the pile, write a book anyone would want to read.

And that’s what Heather has done.

Marshall is a young lad, growing up in Sacramento.  As the middle sibling he’s frustrated by his young sister’s whining and elder brother’s arrogance. 

As kids we all want to fit in at school and with our peers.  But Marshall suffers from asthma and he hates how his inhaler flags up his ‘difference’.  He finds solace at the local junk store, sifting through treasures looking for that special something.

And here Heather breaks out of the normal YA novel format.  Marshall meets the junk shop owner’s niece.  Iris is special, a fragile young girl and they immediately find they have much in common – not least the pleasure in completing puzzles.

Drawn into a world they alone create, they share an openness and honesty we all yearn for.  Marshall, for his young years, is a mature soul and cares for Iris as a friend.  The girl has lost her parents and battled cancer, and yet she still has a tough but sensitive spirit.

As the book drew to a close, the tears rolled down my cheeks.  The ending was terribly moving and I felt honoured to have met Heather’s characters.

But please don't think this is a depressing read.  It's terribly uplifting and offers a fascinating insight into the strength of children.

At the beginning I mentioned that a YA author should write a book anyone would want to read – this is it.  But not only that, it’s a book everyone should read.

Five stars, without a shadow of a doubt.  And my final comment – this should not be self-published.  Someone out there should spot this talent and support this author.

This book is available from Amazon:

The Puzzle Master