Sunday, January 27, 2019

Best Family Ever

Kingsbury, Karen and Russell, Tyler. Best Family Ever (Baxter Family Children #1)
February 5th 2019 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
E ARC from Netgalley

The Baxter family lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the father is a doctor. Brooke is the oldest, and is "perfect" and responsible. Kari is good at school but not as good at soccer. Ashley is very flighty and would rather draw than do her math. The two youngest children, Luke and Erin, don't have as much of a role in the book. On the eve of a vacation to a beach house, the parents drop the news that the family is going to move to Bloomington, Indiana, where the father has a job heading up a new hospital. This is the worst news in the world, and Ashley is especially horrified by it. Still, family is everything, and they can all pray to God for help with this situation. When they return home, the school year continues with Ashley not doing her school work and getting in trouble, soccer try outs that are almost as crushing as the news of the move, and the eventual slide to the end of the school year and the very last day. The moving van is packed, and the family holds on to the thought that even though they are sad to move, they will all be together in their new home.
Strengths: This is a gentle tale that hearkens back to classic literature for children. The problems are very uncontroversial, and the family is privileged enough that the horrific things that happen are moving and not making the soccer team. The family is very religious, which is not shown much in middle grade literature. I could see a lot of home schooling parents want to share this with their children.
Weaknesses: This had a lot of hallmarks of fiction for children written by someone used to writing for adults. It was slower paced, focusing more on feelings than action. It put more emphasis on family than most middle school students put, and the parents were beloved and not irritating. I know that Kingsbury writes a lot of adult fiction, which I haven't read, and maybe the next book will have a better grip on what children want to read.
What I really think: I won't be buying this for my school. It's just not very interesting. When I reviewed Never Evers, I commented "If we have books about children living in poverty, why not books about children who ski in France? The world is full of all kinds of people, and it's interesting to read about them." So yes, we need books about well-to-do, heavily Christian white families, but unfortunately, it was not very interesting to read about the Baxters.

On a purely personal note, I took a violent dislike to the family after one sister decides that what should go in the center of her dream collage is a picture of her parents dancing in the kitchen, because her highest goal in life was to have a marriage and family. Gah! That's just me, I know, but it really set my teeth on edge for the rest of the book, especially knowing that the first adult book about the Baxters involves the father having an affair and the mother refusing to divorce him. Not my truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment