Day, Julia. The Possibility of Somewhere
September 6th 2016 by St. Martin's Griffin
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Eden has had a difficult life. Her mother walked out when Eden was young, but she has a very supportive stepmother, Marnie. Both parents have struggled to stay employed, and the family is currently living in a trailer park community where the father is a handyman. Eden is the number one student in her class, and is determined to get into college on a scholarship so that she can become a special education teacher. She babysits a girl and her autistic brother, which is a good experience and pays well, but cuts into her study time. She does not get along with the number two student in the class, Ash Gupta, who is rich and obnoxious. But there's a thin line between love and hate, and after working on some projects together, the two feel a connection. Neither of their families would approve, so they keep things quiet, and there is an added wrinkle-- Ash is up for the same scholarship that Eden desperately needs. The two need to figure out their plans for the future, and how they fit into each other's.
Strengths: I really liked Eden's character-- she had a lot of problems thrown her way, but was very determined to overcome them. A lot of good realistic details about her babysitting, getting school work done, and her parents' financial struggles. Even a little sleuthing when a picture of her and Ash is put on the school web site.
Weaknesses: A little too much instructional sexual activity (although no sex), some language, and too many problems for a middle school romance novel.
What I really think: Would definitely purchase this for high school because I enjoyed it!
Frost, Helen. Applesauce Weather
Illustrations by Amy June Bates
August 9th 2016 by Candlewick Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Faith and her brother Peter live with their parents on a farm that used to belong to their Aunt Lucy, who has recently passed away. Her husband, Uncle Arthur, comes to visit from time to time, especially when the apples are ready to harvest. Everyone is a bit sad and misses Aunt Lucy, but Arthur tries to distract the children with stories of how he lost his finger. He weaves in tales of his life with Lucy, and seems to be setting the children up to have good memories of him when he is gone, especially since he gives Peter his prized pocket knife.
Told in free verse (uncharacteristic for this author), this story of family history is as bittersweet as a batch of fresh homemade applesauce. Faith's concern and love for Arthur is touching, and her brother Peter's attempts at separating himself from the family realistic. The illustrations add an old-fashioned feel to this short book, which is a great choice for a fall read aloud.
Despite the sad circumstances, this is an upbeat book about preserving memories. The part that I found most fascinating was Arthur's ever changing story about how he lost part of his finger-- farm life in the first half of the 20th century was not particularly kind, nor were children supervised terribly well, and an inordinate number of my male relatives were missing fingers just like Arthur.
Fans of Patricia MacLachlan, Julie Sternberg and Linda Urban will find this gentle tale one to savor while curled up under a light blanket as the fall air starts to cool.
I have to admit that I was VERY disappointed-- Frost does beautiful structured verse. I'm very picky about poetry and usually love her work, but free verse isn't... verse. THis might work better in an elementary school than a middle school.