A Self-Review of Goalden Sky

What I like and what I don’t like about my own book! On this page I dare to self-review Goalden Sky!*

Goalden Sky  is my latest published book, a sequel (probably not the last) to my first book Goalden Girl, continuing the adventures of Gemma Sutherland and her girls’ football team at Naylorsfield School. Goalden Sky was published in 2014, seven years after Goalden Girl, in response to nagging from readers who wanted a sequel. The titles of both books are a play on words: goalden as in ‘goal’. At the end of Goalden Girl, Daz, Gemma’s friend, jokes that Gemma is a ‘goal-den’ girl because she can score goals.

Why did the sequel take seven years to write? Well, because I’ve had other tales to tell in between like Abbie’s Rival, Epiworld and Big Brother. I generally take about two years to write a book, thanks to real life getting in the way as it so often does!

In Goalden Sky, Gemma is another year older and is still playing football for her school, although her dad wants her to turn her attention to her up-and-coming exams. She’s now firm friends with old enemy Tyrone and Portia, her loathsome stepsister, becomes the focus of the story when she has a serious accident and ends up in a wheelchair. The tale revolves around Gemma, Tyrone and their friend Daz trying to help Portia get back on her feet and to get her interested in football again, and so we ask ourselves: is there a golden sky at the end of the storm for Portia? Will she ever walk again? There are sub-plots, too, such as the blossoming romance between Daz and star goalkeeper Tanya. The characters are older now than they were in Goalden Girl and sensitive relationships are coming into play: that’s why I placed Goalden Sky in the teen fiction category. Will Gemma and Tyrone end up in a relationship, too? Who knows?

What I Like

I love the cover: the colour of the sky reflects the gold of ‘goalden’ and there’s a picture of Gemma taking a throw-in from the sideline. The cover tells us this is a story about a girl who plays football, just like the cover for Goalden Girl did.

I also like the fact this is a story of life outside of football, just as Goalden Girl is. Gemma has had many crosses to bear in her young life: her mum and younger sister died over a year ago, her dad remarried and divorced and she’s saddled with a stepsister, Portia, for whom she doesn’t have much time, yet Portia’s plight brings out the best in Gemma: she does care about other people, even if she isn’t perfect herself. Not only does Portia have a problem, so does Tanya, and there are the issues Gemma has with her dad. Will he put his foot down and make her give up football to devote to her studies instead? This book isn’t only about Portia’s problems, but also how Gemma can overcome all the challenges she faces.

There is also plenty of football to keep the reader going.

What I Don’t Like

Despite the sensitivity of personal relationships between the characters, I should never have placed this book in the teen/YA fiction category, for I believe this has cost me readers! I’ve found that fewer people have read Goalden Sky or are willing to review the book. I’m unsure if this is because of the plot or because sequels in general don’t go down as well, or did I simply just leave it too long between the original and the sequel? I don’t know. I did market the book as a sequel to the original. Those who have reviewed the book are generally in favour of the plot, but I think on reflection I should have kept the story in the children’s fiction category. There’s only a hint of a liaison between Daz and a girl called Cerys; apart from that, nothing much, but I know parents can be sensitive about that sort of thing.

It means that a second sequel will have to be placed in YA/teen fiction category because the characters will be older again.

All that said, the story of Gemma and her friends was unfinished at the end of Goalden Girl and remains so at the end of Goalden Sky. A third sequel is on the cards. At the time of writing I don’t know what the title will be, but I’m sure the word Goalden will feature in it somewhere, and Gemma’s and Portia’s stories will continue.

* This review is for this site only

February 17, 2016

Penelope Burns

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