Away With Words

Sophie Cameron

Little Tiger (13+) 9781788953924 (Paperback)

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Gala moves from Spain to a remote part of Scotland with her dad and stepdad. Struggling with a new language and with homesickness, Gala becomes friends with Natalie, a girl with selective mutism.  The friends collect words and like to create poems using the words spoken by others.  They seek to enrich people’s lives with the poems made from captured words, but their idea is hijacked and used to cause pain and division.

This book is centred around a thoughtful, original concept which encourages readers to think about the importance of words, and the impact they can have, in new ways. Gala is a believable, flawed character who can be selfish at times, but grows and develops through the course of the book. The reader is carried on a personal journey following Natalie and Gala’s experiences as their friendship develops.  Family, school life, disabilities and mental health are all portrayed through the book and encourage consideration of what it must feel like to be in Gala’s shoes. There’s a great representation of different cultures and inclusion. Beautifully observed, this is a book that will be remembered and one which is a true celebration of language and emotions. 

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Sophie Cameron

Sophie Cameron is a YA and MG author from the Scottish Highlands. She studied French and Comparative Literature at the University of Edinburgh and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. Her debut novel OUT OF THE BLUE was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019. She lives in Spain with her family.

Shadowers' reviews and artwork

This was quite a good book. At first when you read it you might feel a bit confused when trying to wrap your head around words physically coming out of your mouth when you talk, but when you continue reading, then you will understand where the author is coming from and how the story will progress. Overall though, this is an amazing book. I really like it!


Macaulay Book Club

Quite a unique book, not a genre I would usually read, and even though it is short and relatively simple it portrays very important topics. This type of book would be a great way to show and educate children - perhaps aged 8-12 - about these certain topics.



This intriguing book caught my eye from the start and I'ts mystical values caught my attention immediately. Gala is a great character to think of and how she handles situations are incredibly described to the fullest. Overall I rate this book a 7 or 8/10.

Oliver S


I think this was a good book about people over coming boundaries and sharing kindness. I also like their resilience to prove everyone that they are good people and that they stand up to bullying. I also think that it is full of betrayal both small and large by friends and family.



What a brilliant story about communication, love and friendship. Gala and her dad , Jordi have moved from Spain to Scotland to be with her dad's boyfriend. Gala struggles to speak English and can't communicate with her peers. Along comes Natalie, a girl with selective mutism and the two team up to show their true selves and to find a way to express themselves. I loved this book and really didn't want it to end.

Mrs Parr

Appleton readers

Away with Words is a very good book. It made my think I was the girl in the book :) :) I like the way the words were like pictures. I would give this 9/10.


Rebel Readers

Away With Words is a book about a 12 year old girl called Gala. Gala and her dad Jordi are from Spain and have moved to Scotland to live with Jordi’s boyfriend. Gala struggles to settle into her very different new life and find anything that she enjoys in it until she meets Natalie who has selective mutism. My favourite character in this book was Eilidh O because from the day that Gala starts at her new school she has made her feel welcome. I enjoyed this book because it shows how difficult it is for somebody who doesn’t know much of the language to move to another country. I also think that this book shows how important words are and how much of an impact they can make.



I quite enjoyed this book as it had a heartfelt meaning to it. I liked how when other people would talk, Gala would see the words all around her. This made it a very interesting read. I found this to be quite good although it takes a while to get into it. I give it an 8/10.




The Sherbies

'Away with Words' is a somewhat captivating book that highlights the importance of language as a fundamental way of communication and expression, but also as a device with potential to inflict great damage. The book utilized interesting ideas of visualizing and 'collecting' words, and focussed largely around the ploy of an unlikely but convenient friendship. While the book flourished in vocabulary and language tools, it was all in all written in quite a simple structure and for that reason not 100% engaging. I would Recommend this book to younger pupils

Daniel E


The book Away With Words is a very heartfelt and enjoyable book to read and the theme is to do with adapting to a different place and finding the joys in new things. This is what the main character Gala experiences, when she moves over from Cadaques in Spain, to the quiet town of Fortrose in Scotland. I really enjoyed reading Away With Words, as it created an emotional but warm atmosphere in every chapter, and the characters' lives were interesting to read about, and the fact that they live in a world where you can actually see words that people have said is an amazing feature. The ending was superb too as the story was brought to a good conclusion that made sense. To be honest, I don't think I would change anything about this book - the characters and their journeys and stories are portrayed perfectly. I would highly recommend Away With Words, it is a great book.


Skipton Shadows

"Away With Words" follows the path of Gala, an 11-year-old migrant, and her struggle with feeling belonged in a country where language is a barrier. She soon meets another girl who also views communication as difficult due to selective mutism, and together, they discover the power of words. I loved this book and the very perceptive way in which words are portrayed to have both good and bad consequences depending on how they are used. It evokes empathy for those which come from backrounds such as Gala and Natalie, which is why I would recommend it to younger readers as it may develop an understanding of the world and the difficulties faced by people around us in an easy to understand way.


SHS On The Same Page

I really enjoyed this book, I think it is a nice shorter book with some relatable characters like Gala's occurring selfishness. I like how it includes things that people can't change like disability and gender etc. I enjoy the way she manages to communicate with colors and other ways. I recommend this book to people who want to discover diversity and changes as you get older. I enjoyed this book.


Paulet Readers

This book is about a girl called Gala who had just moved to Scotland due to family suituations. Gala felt that she had left her friends and home behind. She felt lost in this new environment--- she made friends, but she could not express herself properly nor confidently because she did not speak English well. It took her a very long time to find someone who truly understood her. The author expresses Gala's feelings by describing her mental progress successfully. I can find myself in Gala's position and empathise with her feelings because I have been in her position for multiple times. Overall, 'Away With Words' is a very interesting book to read.

Hanming (Sophia)

PGHS Shadowers

I really enjoyed reading this book as it was more light-hearted than some of the others. The character of Gala is great, she seems fun but also quite normal. I really loved the idea of words falling from mouths and it made my imagination go wild! I loved the fact that the way you say something changes its font, colour and size. Natalie was also a fun character and I loved how she developed. At the start Gala was good but not great at English and it was almost satisfying seeing the squiggly lines get fewer and fewer. The culprit was hard to spot but I had an unanswered question about it. Overall, one of the best books I've read yet.

Aidan M


I thoroughly enjoyed the story with its intriguing mystery element and the unique concept of visualizing words.


Winchmore Carnegie Group 2024

I think That This book was very intriguing and excellent because I loved how the author used amazing use of descriptive language and how she made the words really come to life with personification. I also very liked the use of multiple different fonts and styles of writing for all of the different characters and moments, this enabled me to really get a grasp of them. the way that Gala was struggling with having English as a second language. I think this was an extremely good book



I really enjoyed this book. Away With Words is about a girl who moves to Scotland without knowing the language. She meets another girl who is mute and they become friends. Together they make poems out of spoken words to help people who are struggling (I think that this is an excellent idea). Unfortunately, someone else is mean to people through the same system. This book really makes you think about the value of words. It makes you think about what would happen if you couldn't speak. This is a heart-warming novel about hope, words and change.


The Sherbies

Away with words ---------- was a truly eye-opening ---- read to the struggles people -------------moving to the UK face. When Gala moves from her home in Spain ----- she struggles to understand ------------- the native tongue and customs. She is heartbroken ---- and wants to go home. ----- Until she meets Natalie a girl with selective mutism and the pair become ---------- inseparable. This heartwarming read ------- really made me aware of struggle I often hadn't considered ---------. I found it a unique and original plot that really highlighted differences I previously ------------- had little knowledge about. Although -------------- I'm not like the characters I found them easy to identify ------- with and extremely--- likable. Finally ----------- it was an amazing read that captivated me definitely one of the best books I have read. 10/10


The Fitzharrys Shadows

I think that Away with words is an excellent book with a heart-warming storyline about finding your voice with the help of friends. I love the concept of the words you say falling out your mouth and the way the author spread words around some of the pages to show Gala's emotions. I also liked the use of the squiggly lines to show the difficulty in communication between the characters and how Gala learns and understands more English. The use of different fonts to show emotions could have been used more throughout the book to add on to the feeling of the book but apart from that it was a lovely book with a great storyline.


Kingdown 24

I like the detailed descriptions and the character development as well as the plot. The characters were realistic but I think the portrayal of school life was not as realistic, for example the punishment for the bully and the allowance of Gala and Natalie's performance. The description of emotion was interesting and I liked the subtle twist in reality.


Kingdown 24

Away with words is an incredible book about the difficulties of communication, Natalie( a girl with selective mutism) and gala( a girl who is learning english as a third language) both struggle with communication so when Natalie lets gala in on her secret of collecting words, it seems like a solution. Or is it… I think that this is a very good book that has a very interesting story line, my favourite character is Ryan because I love his positive outlook on everything. I also really like Sophie's inventive idea of using different fonts for the words when the words had different emotions.

Caiden o

VISTA Academy

Away with words is a book with a very interesting concept, the idea of physical words being seen with colours and fonts, and I think this is very clever. The themes of friendship, homes and family are nicely fitted in with a simple but effective plot, and the characters are very relatable and engaging. I would give this book 4/5.


High Storrs Carnegie Shadowing Group

Didn't enjoy it for two main reasons: 1: The concept with the words was really cool but wasn't explored enough, so it felt a bit flat 2: The whole bit where the bully basically has no consequences and never owns up just felt wrong. Like imagine if you got one of those poems and then never found out who sent them and all you knew was that someone in your class hated you.


Eltham Hill Book Club

I really liked this book because of the way the words were arranged on the page in different fonts and sizes. It was a heart-warming story of friendship and bravery.


Reepham Readers

This is a beautiful story with a unique and different style.


OLSB Shadowers

I really liked the feeling of the wordsearching being like a metaphor that is actually real, I enjoyed the story and liked the subplot of Natalie having selective mutism. It was a grat book that I really enjoyed



I really loved this book. I liked the idea of a reality where you can see words as people say them. Also I found Gala and Natalie's story of settling in and finding their voices really endearing. Would definitely recommend for some feel good/light reading.



This book was a good book, but probably not for me. I really liked the way that the author used wiggly lines for the selective mutism. I also liked how Gala's friends use the words that everyone says to create a poem.


The Reading Queens

Away with words was a captivating novel with a great plot. I liked how around the pages there were words in different fonts, indicating that people could see speech.The novel explored themes of communication,empathy and the power of words. Overall i enjoyed reading this book.


Fiction Addiction

Away with Words by Sophie Cameron is a captivating tale that delves into the magic of language and the power of self-expression. Set in a world where words are tangible entities, Cameron weaves a mesmerizing narrative filled with wonder and discovery. The protagonist, embarks on a journey confronting personal challenges and societal expectations along the way. Cameron's lyrical prose and richly drawn characters invite readers into a world where words hold the key to understanding oneself and others. Away with Words is a thought-provoking and enchanting read that celebrates the beauty and complexity of language.


Fiction Addiction

So far I'm enjoying this book even though it's a bit confusing


Sir Harry’s Shadowers

I really enjoyed reading this book in which it shows the struggles of moving into a country where you do not know the language well. I really liked this book because of the brilliant idea that words appear when spoken. At first I did not realise that the words were real, I thought that it was just metamorphically spoken as if she had to pick up words in the English language. As soon as I realised what the concept of the book was, I could understand it on a whole other level and appreciate the book properly.

James W-B


I loved the concept and really wanted this to be 5* but it can only be 4* because it just doesn't make sense why the other people don't comment on all these loose words everywhere... And surely there would be more fuss about picking up and hiding words you didn't want others to see and read...

Mrs W

VISTA Academy

This is a good book, although hard to understand at points as words are missing. The book has very strong characters



I personally didn't enjoy this book as i felt as though the plot was non existent. Also I found the idea of " collecting words" and putting on a show about it was stupid



I didn't really enjoy this book because I found it quite boring and I thought that it didn't have a very interesting storyline. Although I did think that is was well written and I thought that some people would highly enjoy it.



This is a great read about communication and friendship with magical realism added to the mix. Imagine a world where when you speak the words also appear visibly in different colours to reflect emotions. An amazing story that touches on bullying, friendship and moving house.


Oxted Carnegie Group

I really enjoyed reading Away with words, i liked how the characters were just like any other person it gave them a sense of reality. I also like how Gala is always thinking about her past that's how you can tell she misses Spain. And how Natalie and Gala have they way of communicating it helps you tell that they are just meant to be friends. When I was reading this book I couldn't put it down I just kept wanting to know what would happen next I really liked that about the book. I like how in the end everything sorta goes back to place and it has such a good ending also and I feel like without the ending it had it wouldn't be complete. And it really shows what its like moving and you could just imagine how hard it would be moving somewhere you dint agree on and trying to learn a whole other language. Over all I think it was a really good book and you could really fell Galas emotions through out the book.


Bredon Readers

Away With Words is a beautiful book that is about a girl named Gala who moves from Spain to a small town is Scotland. She’s a word-searcher, she looks for already spoken words in the world around her. Even surrounded by people, she’s never felt more alone. She has friends, she has her dad but nothing can compare to Spain- right? Until she meets Natalie who has selective mutism. They make poems in an attempt to cheer up their classmates until someone copies their idea with the opposite intention. This book is one of those books that you just can’t put down. It made me cry and laugh and everything in between. The only thing I would change would be to make it longer. It ended too quickly! It is a fantasy based roughly on reality. I think it is perfect for ages 9+ but any age could read and enjoy it. I would rate it 10/10.


The Fitzharrys Shadows

"Away With Words" was a book that changed a lot over the course of the book, going from barely understandable to feel-good situations. The beginning of the book wasn't the best, but the development of the plot and literary devices over the time of the book is astronomical. Also I am very relieved to see that for once there is modern literature that is very different and "back to normal" (no verse) having read "The Door of No Return" and "Crossing The Line"


CRGS Book Society

Away With Words is a captivating story about a girl named Gala who had moved to Scotland from Spain with her dad Jordi to live with his boyfriend Ryan. During her time in Scotland, she befriends Natalie, a girl with selective mutism. As they find ways to communicate an anonymous student has decided to defame Gala’s reputation. What I really like about the books is how the words come in different forms depending on how you say something. Like if you were mad the word might come out a bright bold red or if you were surprised it might come out a shiny yellow. I also really like the fact that Natalie and Gala always find a way to communicate no matter where they are. Despite one having issues with English and one having issues with talking depending on where they are, which is realistic and tells you no matter the persons struggle you can always find a way to communicate. There wasn’t anything I disliked about the book however the ending seemed a bit rushed and quick but other than that the book was really inspiring, and I would recommend to young readers who like poetry. I would rate this book an 8.5/10.


The Fitzharrys Shadows

Probably the worst book I have ever read. The concept doesn't really make any sense, I mean, how do you see words? It doesn't work as a plot. The book is quite well written but I could not stand the characters or the plot, so I would rate this book 2/10.


TBGS Readers

A great story about people who struggle in different ways and their daily struggle when for us the day is a breeze. This isa great book and a fantastic piece of writing.


TBGS Readers

I liked this book. It had an interesting insight into language via its materialization of speech as a physical object. Its expansion on an otherwise dull immigrant story is ascertained by its emotive and relatable characters and positioning of family bonding. Personally the use of a selectively mute character as a method of reinforcing the plot of poem writing with others words as a novel, ingenious ideation.


VISTA Academy

This book was thoughtful, interesting and uplifting. The book is focused around a girl named gala who has moved from Spain to live with her dad's boyfriend. She struggles with making friends and learning English and feels disconnected with the chatty, friendly girl she used to be back in Spain. But then she meets Natalie - a girl with selective mutism and together they collect words, making poems to try cheer her classmates up. However, when someone starts copying the idea, things start to go horribly wrong. I found the idea of words materialising when they're said to be interesting and unique, and the way they were used as a part of the plot rather than just a background for the story.


VISTA Academy

I think that this book was pretty good. It shows how someone from a different country trying to fit in. There was also some parallels between Gala and Natalie and that they both become more confident in speaking. I also liked how there is less of the squiggly lines on each page towards the end. However I did think that the book was a bit cliché. It did take a while for me to get the fact that they are in a different world where they can pick up words. I originally thought that it was all in Galas mind. Overall the book was good but not the best.

Yusuf K


I thought the concept was very unique and could have potential as an amazing read; it was just a little difficult to develop interest in the book.


St Kaths

A wonderful book about a girl getting over bullying and taking control of her life. 4 stars


Macaulay Book Club

My favourite thing about the book is the character development from Gala. She went from trying her hardest to make her dad let them move back, to begging him to let them stay. I also like that instead of lashing out at Natalie for leaving her to deal with the problems at school, she understood and helped her deal with them.


SHS On The Same Page

I enjoyed the way Gala changed from trying her hardest to Fortrose, to begging to stay. My favourite character, however, was Iaia, her grandma, because her personality was very fun and interesting. I also enjoyed guessing who actually made the rude poems.


SHS On The Same Page

I really liked this book because it reminded me of the power words have. I think that 'Away with Word's is one of the best books I have read and I will definitely read it again.


Killy Krew

I really enjoyed reading Away with Words. I think the book could have ended a little bit better. I feel like the book should have been longer. I would recommend this book to my friends and family, I would also reread this book in a few years time when I have forgotten the story. I rate this book 9.5/10.


Rebel Readers

Away with words is a book about a young girl named Gala, whose father has moved from their home in Spain to Scotland to be with his husband Ryan. The book follows Gala's journey and her hurdles settling into a new place: learning English, making friends and coming to like her new home. I enjoyed this book most of the way through, but the ending felt a little bit rushed and aimed at a younger reader. The ending was unrealistic as well as being less emotionally mature than the rest of the book. The fact that they were able to see spoken words was an excellent addition, whilst not taking away from the realism of the story. It showed how words can be harmful, but also the healing power of words, in a clever way. Overall, the book was good and I would recommend it. I would give it 8/10


SGS Book Club 2024

A moving story that shows how being compassionate always wins out on staying quiet and not speaking out against people who are doing the wrong thing.

Sam S


This was a wonderful heart touching book about a girl who sees words differently as she thought she was the only one she meets a girl with a similarly different issue. It was amazing to see their friendship bloom!


Fiction Addiction

I loved the idea of words being physical things representing the tone and feelings of the speaker and the fact they could be preserved. This was mirrored by the creativity of the words appearing on the page. The characters develop well and the reader follows their journey as the girls face their anxieties and new situations. A sensitive story that stays with you.

Mrs T

Ernulf readers

this book is about haw words can really change someone. Either by helping or hurting them.



I found this book OK. People being able to collect words seemed kind of strange at first but I eventually got used to it. Jordi and her friend Natalie started writing poems for their friends when an anonymous person starts writing insulting poems. They both have to work together to find out who. I would rate this book a 6.5/10 and recommend it to 12 year olds.



Beautifully written and very moving. A lovely story about friendship. bullying, language, communication, family and so much more! This is the first book I have read from the Carnegie shortlist.


The Sherbies

I really love the idea of being able to see people’s words. The story was interesting, with a bit of who done it. Overall a very enjoyable read.


FPHS Reading Crew

Away With Words by Sophie Cameron is a down to earth, quick read with believable characters and a storyline that is easy to navigate. The book is centred around Gala, a teenage girl who has recently moved from her beloved Spanish home to a town in Scotland so her Dad, Jordi, can be with his boyfriend Ryan. As Gala begins to reluctantly settle into her new home, she meets Natalie, a beautifully written character with selective mutism. The two quickly become firm friends and embark on several personal journeys together. I found this book very believable and realistic in many ways although sometimes a little difficult to get into. I think the author did especially well at seeing inside Gala’s mind and the reader is able to witness her change in mindset as she adapts to her new life in the UK. I particularly liked the moments of realisation as Gala sympathises with various characters, however I think the book could’ve benefited from a more complex narrative to keep the reader fully engaged. Overall, I did enjoy reading this book as it contains some stunning descriptions, and characters so perfectly imperfect that they feel as real as anyone else. I believe this book can be read at any age although I think it would be more enjoyable from around 10+ years old.


The Fitzharrys Shadows

I liked this book because it shows the meaning of words and how words can hurt or help someone. what I don't like is how this book isn't original, like the words being visible is original but the fact that some kids do something and face a challenge then overcome the challenge isn’t. For this reason i give this book a 6/10



It was an engaging read, yet simple in structure, and could definitely be enjoyed by younger readers. The plot was clear and easy to understand, following the life of Gala and the friends she makes in her new home. The book also tackles the idea of the value and impact of words, especially in a school environment, using words as physical objects that can be 'swept up' or collected. The use of these words highlights the progression of Gala, our antagonist, and her new friend Natalie, and how words can be crafted, but also manipulated into hurtful comments. The book is based in the real world, so physical words did need some justification, which Sophie Cameron did admirably, although the reader does have to just go along with it at points. Over all, 'Away With Words' proved to be an enjoyable YA read, and its wholesome story of the progression of Gala and Natalie, who both sometimes struggled to find their words, was truly uplifting.


The St. Bede’s Literary Critics

Check out the videos by the shortlisted writers!

Dr Stewart

Macaulay Book Club

Away with words is a decent book however I think the ending wasn't as good as the rest of the book unless a sequel is going to be released. The words sometimes go to near the spine when they are printed up the page which detracts from them.



I enjoyed this nice book set in a variant of our world where spoken words are visible and can be used to collect, create things or preserve memories. Gala and her friend Natalie use them to create individually tailored supportive notes for people in their class, however then mean messages start appearing, so they have to prove it wasn’t them as they can’t collect words anymore