Review: The Summer of Letting Go

The Summer of Letting Go
The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moving and pitch perfect.

Frankie and her parents are still reeling from the drowning death of her little brother four years before. Each hurts and blames him or herself, and they are all trying to cope in ways that separate them from one another. Then Frankie meets a little boy at the pool, is asked to babysit him all summer, and finds a connection with him that brings her back into life.

There’s mysticism, poetry, friendship, first love and teenager-parent drama and it all feels real. There’s been a lot of loss in our friendship circle lately – someone shared a quote with me, attributed to author Louise Erdrich: “Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Everyone’s life will be touched by tragedy; I don’t think any of us can escape that. In between the moments of tragedy, we have to taste as much of the sweetness as we can. I recommend this book for readers trying to find their way back to the sweetness.

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Review: Circle, Square, Moose

Circle, Square, Moose
Circle, Square, Moose by Kelly Bingham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Super funny, inventive, just right for its target audience! What starts as a staid and standard shapes book becomes a hilarious goof when Moose crashes in. In classic kid ‘look at me’ fashion, Moose bends herself into shapes, eats them, and gets evicted from the story. In swoops Zebra, and the book becomes a sweet tale of friendship. Kids will love Moose and Zebra and how they make their own fun. Perfect for reading together in lapsits or story times.

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Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine you would live forever. Well, not forever. Imagine you will live again and again, the same life, born to the same parents, in the same part of the globe, in the same era. You will be born as any other babe but, eventually, some time in your pre-school years, you will regain consciousness of your previous lives and the wisdom of all your previous experiences and education. What do you do? Suffer through adolescence again? Become a doctor this time? A hermit? Use your knowledge of future world events to prevent war or get rich and luxuriate in your good fortune? Or, will you use the cumulative knowledge of all the ages to aolve the question of life, the universe, and everything, regardless of the cost to the mortals around you?

North (a pseudonym) poses these questions and creates a believable world and a believable cadre of humans who have this very experience. Four stars for inventiveness. Three because I wasn’t 100% sucked in to the central dilemma or any of the characters. There’s lots to think and talk about, though, and I loved the way she created a mechanism for the stretched out generations to communicate with one an other. Well worth the time spent!

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Review: The Boston Girl

The Boston Girl
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book and thought, disappointedly, another Jewish immigrant girl at the turn of the century. What can be new about this? But, oh, Addie! What a character, what a voice! She is a real person leaping off the page and I wish I knew her.

I understand what many readers mean when they say Diamant breaks no new ground here. There’s nothing shocking, nothing you haven’t heard before. And it’s a little unusual that it skips right over the Holocaust. And the end is rushed. But something about the writing gave me such a feeling for Addie Baum. She was terrific. Diamant created wonderful characters who you couldn’t help but like and root for. A wholly satisfying, if untaxing, read. I would recommend this to many of my library patrons looking for a story to take them away and remind them of the swoop of the last century.

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Review: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This has great makings of a terrific book — a brother and sister on their own, in desperate circumstances, fall in with a troubled but noble family and stumble on a dark but seductive secret. Horror! Intrigue! Danger! Snooze! It just wasn’t my cup of tea. For a very long time, not much happened. The story just moved so slooowly. In reading the Author’s Note, I was not surprised to find that Jonathan Auxier found some inspiration in Henry James. I remember experiencing reading James as almost painful. Though I cannot imagine any kid in the 10 – 14 range thrilling to this tale, I am in the minority. It was the winner of this year’s MLS Mock Newbery Award. So, don’t listen to me.

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Review: Smek for President!

Smek for President!
Smek for President! by Adam Rex
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How how how is it possible that I did not know Adam Rex had written another adventure for JLo and Tip? Must read now.

Sooo happy! We were reading this out loud in the car in the driveway, waiting our turn at drum lessons and laughing and snorting and having tears to stream down our faces. Me and my humansgirl LOVE this. Final answer no takebacks!

“Out of curiosity, how many buildings are too many buildings to crash into?”

“JLo shrugged, or tried to. He doesn’t really have the shoulders for it.”

“I want a leader who’s a humble supergenius.”

“The peoples in this town they sure do hold a grudge,” he announced. “You accidentally make ONE PUPPY colossal and suddenly you are that alien.”

“Apologies. I do not speak English.”


“She is still mad about this?” he huffed. I told her – I thought they were anklewolves.”
“Okay, whatever, I – ”
“Why elsenow would a person wear fur with shortpants? It makes no sense!”

“JLo, please pass the salt.”
“This is the chlorine. The salts is in front of you.” He put a little chlorine on his deodorant sandwich.
Mom shuddered. “We have to start labeling things.”

“Remembers,” said JLo. “We are in parking spot number pi-/73034.”

“I have been watching the Americans. You like to think you decide things, but you only ever decide not to change. Because you are afrightened of change. You are the man who likes a big menu but always orders hamburgers.”

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