Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins

If you're not familiar with From the Mixed-Up Files, it's a great site that concentrates on middle grade writers, books, and topics. Head over there for a great post about younger middle grade books by Gail Shepard!

GailShepherd, Gail. The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins
March 26th 2019 by Kathy Dawson Books / Penguin
ARC provided by the publisher

Lyndie is not happy that she has to move into her grandparents' house along with her mother and father in 1985. Her father has lost his job under circumstances she doesn't understand, and seems to be drinking more than her grandmother, Lady, would deem wise. Her mother, who normally takes great pride in gardening, prefers to stay in bed. Lyndie has to head back to her private school (that's where nice girls go, says Lady), where she has a good friend in Dawn, whose family is heavily involved in doing good works. Right before school on the very first day, Lyndie finds an injured fawn and takes it to the family barn to help it, which does not get her year off to a good start. She ends up in detention, where she meets D.B., the boy Dawn's family is fostering. D.B. has had to leave his last foster home under sad circumstances, and doesn't really understand the social mores of Love's Forge, Tennessee. School is hard enough, but Lyndie's biggest concern is her father's increasingly erratic behavior. He had fought in Vietnam before Lyndie was born, and has long struggled with the after effects of that, but the recent suicide death of an army buddy has made these problems worse. Her grandmother's controlling presence and her mother's disengagement don't help, and Lyndie soon realizes that she is not able to save her father in the way she was able to save the fawn, and that professional help is needed.
Strengths: It was refreshing to see a book where troubled parents have a support network and are remanded to professional help (even if Lady doesn't approve of it).So many middle grade books show dysfunctional families and completely fail to model good ways to deal with situations. The different story lines meld well together, and the auxiliary characters are interesting. Poor Dawn and her knitting! The topic of PTSD is a timely one, and there are few novels about it. D.B.'s delinquency and foster placements are realistic and add another dimension to the understanding of how PTSD can affect families.
Weaknesses: I've been lately thinking about how different the 1980s were from today, and there were few historical details. I would have almost preferred the story be set in the modern day. While the level of details in Hood's She Loves You are exemplary, there's something to be said for inclusion of details about food, clothing, technology, current events, and popular media to set a story firmly in a time period.
What I really think: This has a good cover, and I need stories about military families, so I will purchase this for next year.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of including everyday details about a time period in historical fiction to make it feel authentic and give a good picture of what life was like at a time when middle graders weren't yet around.