Friday, May 31, 2019

Hurricane Season

Melleby, Nicole. Hurricane Season
May 7th 2019 by Algonquin Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Fig (given name Finola) and her father Tim live along the coast in New Jersey. Her father was an up and coming composer and performer before Fig's birth, but after her arrival, her mother left and her father struggled with the creative process. He has good days and bad days, and is especially disturbed by storms, which frequent their area at certain times of year. When her father comes to school in a very agitated state looking for Fig, her art teacher calls children's protective services and has the family under watch. Fig feels that if she can keep everything together at home and do well on an art project about Van Gogh, her father will seem competent and they will be able to stay together. She gets help from an unlikely source, new neighbor Mark, who rescues her father from a storm and slowly starts helping the two put some coping mechanisms in place. Fig is able to let Mark handle some issues, and relaxes enough to try to make some friends, including Danny, who "like likes" her. However, when her father comes to a Halloween party looking for her, again in an agitated state, Mark takes even more action and makes sure that the father goes to a doctor and gets the help he so desperately needs. Adjusting to the medication isn't easy, but it does seem to improve things, as does the stable presence of Mark. Tim and Mark become romantically involved, children's protective services are pleased that Tim is making progress, and Fig is able to turn her attention back to the academic and social aspects of middle school.
Strengths: It was refreshing to see a child in crisis at a moment when concerned adults were beginning to get involved. Fig's life has been difficult, but when it starts to become impossible, there are people there to help her. I think this is an important reassurance for young readers and a reminder that they should go to trusted adults if they have problems. Fig's attitude is understandable, and she tries her best to hold things together by being the adult but also trying her best in school. She is lonely for friends, but not romantically interested in Danny, mainly because she's 11, but also because she has a crush on an older girl who works at the library. Van Gogh and his problems are worked into the story in an interesting way, and the cover is a nice reflection of that theme.
Weaknesses: There were a lot of issues. The dad's bipolar disorder, Fig's abandonment by her mother, Mark and Tim's relationship, Fig's questioning of her sexuality, and even a passing mention of Danny's father being in drug rehab. That's all fine; it's all appropriate to this age group, but by mentioning so many different things, it makes each one of them seem less believable to readers who may have no background knowledge about some of them. Having Fig's father be gay or bisexual is one thing, but to also have Fig be questioning makes both situations seem more unlikely and forced.
What I really think: This was well written and enjoyable, but I will have to see if I need more books of this kind. With a limited budget, I can buy only a small percentage of each type of book, and books with sad issues and children overcoming adversity make up a large number of 2019 releases.
Ms. Yingling

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