I promised my student book club I would regularly update this blog with titles I’ve been reading this summer so that I can pass on recommendations throughout the holiday break. This week’s theme: realistic fiction, guaranteed to produce a few tears . . . All of these are middle grade reads.
One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Carely Connors is released from the hospital into the care of the Murphys – a family that is able to show her what looking out for family really means. The dynamics of her relationship with her new family are very believable. Not everything is smooth. Neither are Carley’s first few weeks at a new school. Friendship dynamics are explored in a believable and appealing way. Trying to decide just where she belongs, Carley watches the way the Murphys interact and rethinks everything she has known about family. A highly emotional book, reminding us that we are always better people to have known each other, even when our time together is short. This book speaks to the power of unconditional love, the magic of resiliency and the need we all have to matter. Lynda Mullaly Hunt has crafted a story that will pull at every heartstring you have.
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
Stella and Angel now share a secret when they only once shared a somewhat respectful disdain. Both girls have been in the care of Stella’s Great Aunt Louise. Angel is an orphan in foster care and Stella for a time, has been orphaned by circumstances. Her mother is “finding herself” and Stella is not part of the plans. When Louise dies, the girls decide to handle the burial themselves and tell no one in order to try and ensure the possibility of family security that both girls want so desperately. A secret this big, hidden in plain sight is all encompassing and caring for themselves and each other over the course of this important summer is more difficult than they first anticipated. How this story enfolds is heartbreaking, full of vulnerability but often delightfully humorous.
See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
It’s difficult to write about this book without giving away important plot points. This is a story of a family whose daily lives are defined by the family owned restaurant they operate. But a busy family with four children means that there are many relationship dynamics to explore. The third daughter Fern tells a story that is hard to tell. When something happens that changes everything, the family must navigate their way both alone and together to the “moving on” side of life. Guilt and grief and hope are intertwined. Knowles reminds us that love is holding close and letting go. I adored Fern. She is humble and true. She stands on the brink of young adulthood and feels so much. She is far from perfect but she is so so good. The ideal narrator for this story. It’s an emotional ride, this book. But in the end, somehow, one is soothed.