Meet Henry. He's in a loving, nerdy family who we watch flounder with agony and heartache after a family tragedy. In this Canadian author, Susin Nielsen's skilled hands though, it's a satisfying read mixed with likeable characters and sweetness. Yes, hard to imagine with a story about hideous bulllying, culminating in tragic death.
Henry talks a robot-language to cope, starts seeing a therapist, and journals to figure out how to move forward. Winning the 2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children and Michigan Library's Association 'Thumbs Up' 2013 Book of the Year is a strong endorsement for this story, which I gladly add my vote to as well.
Since we're counting by 7s, here are seven things I liked from this book.
1.Question: What are the 7 most important things in your life?
2.Willow says, "To know me is to know my garden."
3.Willow says, "Don't lose your individuality, even though you're in a flock."
4.Willow says, "Besides the number 7, I have two other major obsessions. Medical conditions. And plants.
5.Quote: "Even free things are never free. The burden of ownership means everything has a price."
6.Quote: "The world where we live is so much in our head."
7.12 year old Willow Chance is unforgettable.
First love. Inching towards a sound, meaningful relationship. Believable and sweet, with memories of your own first love bubbling up from the beyond. Issues of a bad, sinister step-parent, identity, and bullying all wound up in the story too. Eleanor & Park figure it out--together. Says Park of Eleanor, "Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a buttefly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive." Won a Printz honor award too for 2013.
At the heart of the story is Standish and Hector, they have each others backs, they imagine and dream together, they are the very best of friends. However, the world they live in is evil. It's a land where people are disposed of if they don't praise the Motherland, or if they aren't obedient and are 'impure' in some way.
The story is one of an alternate history (WWII)where there's an ongoing preparation to show the world the Motherland has landed on the Moon. It's a hoax, and Standish plans to expose the fiends, for his family and for Hector. There's also the 'Mothers for Purity,' people herded into zones, and tongues cut out if you speak out against the Motherland. A read-alike would be 'Boy in the Striped Pajamas.' A Printz-Honor book for 2014.
2013's Edgar Award nominee, (Young Adult category) slowly unwinds into many mysteries being revealed, a suicide, a missing person, and a romance. Claire is teetering, and by rights she should be broken. The reader is guided expertly into Claire's jangled mind and watches her stutter step her way into finding answers. Alongside Claire, are some of the best supporting characters ever, Claire's best friend Tess, and her father's new partner, Grace. The setting is an important player in the story too, as it takes place in Amhurst, and of course, Emily Dickerson's dress figures prominently into the story.