Nothing To See Here is a funny, touching story about a young woman, Lillian, who has little direction in life, her unlikely friendship with a former boarding school roommate, and the interesting turn Lillian’s life takes when she suddenly finds herself the caretaker of two children who just happen to spontaneously combust when upset. Based on the unusual premise involving children who catch on fire, I wasn't sure what to expect from this story, but Nothing To See Here is now on my list of favorite books. I adored Lillian's wit, honesty, and insightful commentary. The complexity of her friendship with Madison, whose stepchildren become Lillian's charges, deftly shows the role social class and power have on our interactions with others. The development of Lillian's bond with the twins in her care unfolds beautifully, capturing the hesitation and hope inherent in new relationships. The humor in this novel is spot-on; there was a perfect balance of comedy and poignancy. This book tenderly highlights that it takes much more than a biological connection to be a loving parent. Highly recommend!
Beautifully written story of twin sisters from a tight-knit southern black town whose lives take very different roads when, several years after running away together, one returns to their mother in their hometown while the other runs even farther--passing as white, marrying a white man, and living a far more affluent lifestyle. When the twins' daughters' paths cross years later, the lines of racial identity, family ties, secrecy, loyalty, and personal desires become tangled and blurred. This story examines a person's connection to one's roots and family versus a person's decision to follow their own desires and determine one's own path. Told over the span of several decades and from multiple viewpoints, this novel reveals and examines the complexities of family dynamics and personal choices. A smart, engaging, thought-provoking read.
Set in 1981 SoHo, ALL THE GREYS ON GREENE STREET tells the story of Ollie (Olympia) , who is struggling to understand her father's abandonment and her mother's refusal to get out of bed. What is keeping Ollie somewhat afloat? Her artistic talent--which serves as a kind of therapy for her--her two close friends, Alex and Richard, and her father's art restoration business partner, Apollo, who is like a second father. The rich details of an artist's observances and a layered ensemble cast make this atmospheric MG resonate with personality and hope as Ollie suffers the fallout of her father's abandonment and her mother's depression. Could be a long, heavy read for some younger MG readers, but ALL THE GREYS is a beautiful handling of difficult subject matter. The underlying thread of seeing the world through art and color is deftly done.
It's the summer of 1962, and Heddy, a poor girl from Brooklyn, has just found out she lost her scholarship for her senior year at Wellesley. While working as a summer nanny for a wealthy family on Martha's Vineyard, she hopes to find a solution that will allow her to finish school. Along the way she learns having money doesn't ensure happiness and appearances don't always match up with reality (no surprise on either point, but Heddy has much to learn about such things). Definitely a page turner in that I cared about Heddy and was curious to see how she'd work out her situation. An interesting cast of characters, a growing friendship, a love triangle, social class conflicts, and a financial shell game add to the appeal and intrigue. This engaging story had a main character I genuinely cared about, plot twists that upped the tension, and a summer island setting that becomes an appealing character in the story.
I enjoyed ALL ADULTS HERE especially for it's unique premise: Astrid, a widowed older parent of three grown children, closely examines how she actually did as a parent (and wants to fix what she may have done wrong). After witnessing the horrific death of an acquaintance, Astrid begins an emotional journey of self-examination and comes to the realization that life is short and she's tired of hiding who she really is. (She also learns to let loose a little!) I found it an interesting perspective to see a mature woman taking control of her own life, following her heart in a way that may surprise her children (she's in love with a woman) and discovering who she really is in her heart. An interesting novel about the impact our words and actions have on others and on being true to yourself.
Cassie's previously adventurous mom develops early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and Cassie's time spent making art and playing soccer with her best friend falls away. When her mom's condition worsens and she can't even recall Cassie's name, Cassie becomes determined to help her mom check off "swimming with the dolphins" from her bucket list in the hope that it will help her reconnect. A beautifully written story about the importance of memories, the fear of loss, and the emotional connections that bond family and friends together no matter what.
HOW LONG IS FOREVER is the story of a young boy’s quest to understand the essence of what forever really is. Through her delightful storytelling, Kelly Carey cleverly depicts how a child’s idea of “forever” (Grandma's blueberry pie will take forever to bake) varies considerably from that of an older person. As Mason hunts for the meaning of forever, he enjoys all the beauty and treasures his grandparent’s farm holds. Perspective is a key theme in this story, and parents and teachers will find many jumping-off points for discussion regarding time and perspective. Children will easily engage with Qing Zhuang’s vibrant colored pencil and watercolor illustrations. And blueberry pie plays a key role in Carey’s book as well. How yummy is that?
To learn more about author Kelly Carey, visit her website: http://www.kcareywrites.com/.
To learn more about illustrator Qing Zhuang, go to https://www.qingthings.com/.
Haunting literary fiction about 24 year old nurse from Paris caring for a wealthy dying man in southern France. This novel is set in contemporary times yet has an "old soul" feel to it. The setting is rich and textured with strong characters whose personalities pull you in and unsettle you simultaneously. A deep examination of family relationships, societal norms, the power of guilt, and the lengths people will go to to hide their true selves.
It’s been over three years since World War II ended, but fifth grader Glory Bea Bennett still holds on to the hope that her father will return from France, where he was reportedly killed in action. The Merci Train, a boxcar with gifts from the people of France, will make a stop in Glory Bea’s hometown of Gladiola, Texas, and Glory Bea is convinced her father will be the train’s surprise guest. When her father's army buddy, Randall Horton, arrives in town to meet their family, romance blooms between Mrs. Bennett and Randall, threatening to derail Glory Bea's plans for her father's reunion with their family. Simultaneously sweet and heart wrenching, this middle grade historical fiction novel set in 1948 examines the effects the war had on home front families. Light humor, engaging characters (love the matchmaking grandma!), and an atmospheric subplot (middle school crushes at the soda fountain counter, anyone?) make this middle grade well worth reading.
Lyrical picture book about overcoming fears on the first day of preschool/daycare. Universal theme of self-confidence with sparse text that reads like a poem and whimsical illustrations that depict imagination and warmth. A lovely, inspirational read!
While I cannot speak to the accuracy of the migrant experience nor the dialects used, I appreciate this book as a well written fictional work with compelling characters, solid pacing, tight tension, and intense emotional drama. It was a difficult read content-wise yet still kept me engaged start to finish. Definitely recommend.
A story of a math genius who needs some help in the social etiquette department. Sweet and unique MG!