Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Astonishing Maybe

Grimes, Shaunta. The Astonishing Maybe
Published March 26th 2019 by Feiwel and Friends
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Gideon's family moves from New Jersey to Logandale, Nevada just in time for the long, hot summer. When he sees a neighbor girl out rollerskating wearing her bathing suit over her clothes and a baby blanket around her neck like a cape, he doesn't have a whole lot of hope for the summer. Roona turns out to be fairly nice, however, and since the two are going into 7th grade in the fall, Gideon spends some time hanging out in her backyard, putting his feet in the baby pool. Roona's life is difficult. Her father, who is in the military, hasn't seen her for years, and her mother once had an episode that resulted in her being sent to live with an aunt and eight cousins for a summer. Roona is concerned that her mother is unhappy again, and worried because her mother bakes pies and cakes for other people. If she's sad when she bakes them, disastrous things happen. When her cookies are served at a school meeting for incoming kindergartners that Gideon's parents and sister Harper attend and the meeting ends in fights and the police being called, Gideon thinks Roona's worries are worth listening to. He gets talked into taking a bus to the Nellis base near Las Vagas with her, so that she can talk to her father and try to get her mother some help. When the two arrive, secrets about her father are revealed, and the two's parents are called to retrieve them. This does not endear Gideon's parents to Roona, even after he explains her predicament to them. When it looks like Roona will be sent back to her aunt, she shares fears about this happening with Gideon, and he knows that he needs to find her some help. He goes to Miss Oberman, a favorite teacher of Roona's whom they met at the local nursing home during an ill-conceived attempt to try to get a pie back from Miss Oberman's mother. When Roona needs help, both Miss Oberman and Gideon's family are able to step in and keep her safe while her mother gets the treatment that she needs.
Strengths: It was refreshing to read a middle grade book where the character moved into a new house and was more concerned with finding a friend than with the house being haunted! I liked Gideon because even though he wasn't wild about the idea of moving, he was willing to try to make a friend. The details about the summer in Nevada were interesting. The families were both convincing. Gideon didn't tell his folks too much about what was going on with Roona, and they reacted accordingly, but once he shared more with them, they were willing to help. The road trip details were good, and there were several good plot twists. I especially liked that Gideon did the right thing to get his new friend the help she needed, and that a teacher ended up being the "trusted adult" that was essential to Roona's well being.
Weaknesses: Wasn't quite sure where the whole "magical baking" thing was going, but once Roona's situation got more serious, this was dropped.
What I really think: The cover on this makes the book a hard sell. It is generally the sort of sad book my students like in February, especially since there is a road trip involved, but the cover makes it look too happy.
Ms. Yingling

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