Series: Nothing Ever Happens Here
By Sarah Hagger-Holt
This is Littlehaven. Nothing ever happens here.
No one famous was born here. Or lived here. Or even died here.
The high street has the same shops as every other high street in every other town.
Even when you walk and walk right to the edge of Littlehaven, there aren’t rolling hills or mysterious woods, there are just flat fields, going on and on into the distance.
The most famous thing that happened here was hundreds of years ago. Someone, I can’t remember who, invented a machine that halved the time you could harvest wheat, or something. We went to see it on a trip in primary school. All metal spikes and crushing wheels.
This is Littlehaven. Nothing ever happens here.
Until my dad.
On my bedside table, the clock flashes 03.03. I’m awake. I don’t know what’s woken me up, but now that I’m awake, I’m hungry.
Mum always moans about the amount I eat: another jar of peanut butter scraped clean, another packet of Weetabix gone, another loaf of bread with only the crusts left at the bottom of the bag.
“I don’t know where you put it all,” she says. “Leave something for the rest of us, Izzy.”
But Dad says, “Give her a break, Kath, she’s just growing, aren’t you, Izzy? Everyone’s got to grow.” And he crouches down to pretend he’s smaller than me and that I’m a giant towering above him.
Sometimes, I like it. Sometimes, it’s just embarrassing.
I lie there for a bit, thinking perhaps I’ll go back to sleep 03.04. 03.05. No, definitely hungry.
I pull on my pink dressing gown and quietly head downstairs, thinking there might be some Rice Krispies left. Past Megan’s room. Past Jamie’s, with its tatty Thomas the Tank Engine poster still hanging on the door. Past Mum and Dad’s.
I’m halfway down the stairs before I hear something. It’s a kind of snuffling sound and a gasping sound and a hiccupping sound. It’s so odd that I stop where I am to listen more closely.
Then I realize, it’s someone crying. Not just a little bit. It’s the sort of crying that stops you breathing properly, that leaves you all snotty and headachy and swollen-eyed.
There’s light coming from under the living-room door. I can hear Mum’s voice murmuring softly, but not what she’s saying.
The crying continues.
Of course I’ve seen Dad cry before. He sniffs all the way through The Wizard of Oz and Marley and Me, welling up long before the dog dies. But nothing like this.
My stomach turns in on itself. I’m not hungry any more.
I head back to my room and curl up tight under my duvet, thinking of something, anything, to try and get the sound of Dad crying out of my head: my twelve times table, the names of all the children in The Sound of Music in order, what I’m going to wear tomorrow on the first day of the summer holidays, the numbers on the clock blinking past: 03.07. 03.08.
You have 0 of these in your Basket.
“This is Littlehaven. Nothing ever happens here. Until the spotlight hits my family.” Izzy’s family is under the spotlight when her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman. Izzy is terrified her family will be torn apart. Will she lose her dad? Will her parents break up? And what will people at school say? Izzy’s always been shy, but now all eyes are on her. Can she face her fears, find her voice and stand up for what’s right?
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“Perfectly pitched, this is a timely, gentle and honest story that will inspire conversations and encourage empathy.”
“This authentic-feeling book, filled with warm, nuanced characterisation, explores the idea of transition in a gentle, unsensational way.”
Sarah Hagger-Holt lives with her partner and two daughters in Hertfordshire and is the Community Campaigns Manager for the LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall. She is the author of two adult non-fiction LGBTQ+ parenting books and has written for the i paper, the Huffington Post, and spoken on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about LGBTQ+ parenting. Nothing Ever Happens Here was sparked by interviews that she carried out with trans parents and their children when researching her book ‘Pride and Joy: A guide for lesbian, gay, bi and trans parents’, where she was struck by the contrast between their honest, complex stories and the ongoing, sensationalist media coverage of trans people’s lives
“Handled with sensitivity and refreshing humour, Hagger-Holt’s debut children’s novel is a tribute to inclusivity and acceptance that speaks brilliantly effectively to a vitally important topic.”
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“A barrier-breaking, empathy-inducing story for all.”
“[Hagger-Holt] never lets the book’s simple and timeless message – that everyone has the right to be accepted and love as their own, authentic self – eclipse the story.”