Monday, May 5, 2014

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles

Twelve-year-old Fern has a crazy, big family: she's the third of four kids, and feels invisible. Her older brother may be gay but hasn't admitted it yet, her younger baby brother's just a spoiled pain, and her sister (the oldest) is angry with the world and working at the family's restaurant during a gap-year before college. Dad is always coming up with embarrassing, loony promotional ideas for the restaurant, and as a result, Mom's continually striving to tune out the chaos in favor of inner peace.

But in a mere moment, everything changes. Life will never be the same.

This is an excellent book, and also gut wrenching. Emotionally draining. I listened to the audiobook on a car trip and considered quitting because it was putting such a pall over my drive. But I also so badly wanted to know what happened that I persevered.

It's not too heavy a story for kids - every day, real-life kids deal with these same issues and more, and I'm glad books like this (and many others, too) illustrate they are not alone. It's exceptionally written, and worth reading. But it's also not a light novel, and I think it would be best accompanied by a discussion with a kid who reads it, to help iron out their emotions and thoughts about the events of the tale. I know I spent some quiet time, contemplating, at its completion.

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