Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sweeping Up the Heart

Henkes, Kevin. Sweeping Up the Heart
March 19th 2019 by Greenwillow Books
E ARC from Edleweiss Plus

Amelia lives a quiet life in a college town with her introspective father and kindly neighbor Mrs. O’Brien, who looks after her and provides her with delicious baked goods. Amelia's mother died when she was two, and she never really misses her, but she wishes her father were a bit more fun. When she is stuck in town during spring break, she spends a lot of time making clay creations at Louise's pottery shop, and befriends Louise's nephew Casey, who is spending his spring break with his aunt while his parents go on a marriage retreat to try to improve their troubled marriage. The two work on some clay projects and also spend time eating lunch in town and making up elaborate stories about the people they see in the street. Casey makes up a story about a woman he sees, and tells Amelia that it is her mother. It isn't, of course, but it IS the woman her father is dating. Her father is going to break up with Hannah, thinking that Amelia would not like such a drastic change in her life, but Amelia starts to realize that she would like a mother figure in her life, so she connects with Hannah and her father's relationship is given a new chance. Casey must return home, and his parents decide to separate.
Strengths: This reminded me a lot of the novels of Sarah MacLachlan or Cynthia Rylant's Rosetown-- short, quiet, and introspective. They all deal with a variety of sad things in a gentle way, and the children involved have a strong support network of caring adults. This book even references Emily Dickinson (the title is from one of her poems). I can see this being used as a class read aloud.
Weaknesses: This is very slow and sad.
What I really think: If this author's Olive's Ocean and Junonia do well in your library, I'd definitely purchase. I just can't see my middle school students finding this to be very intriguing.

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