Sunday, September 08, 2019

My Jasper June

Snyder, Laurel. My Jasper June
September 3rd 2019 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's summer time, but Leah is bored. She's old enough that her parents let her stay home, but she isn't going to camp, her friends are gone, and she's just... bored. Her parents aren't interested in what she does, since they can barely drag themselves through the day after a tragedy that befell the family a year ago. When she is out in her suburban Atlanta neighborhood, looking for things to do, she meets a girl, Jasper. Jasper is trying to wash her clothes in a creek, so Leah asks her home. The girls do laundry, have snacks, and hang out. For the first time, Leah feels normal and happy. Jasper doesn't know her past, so doesn't ask questions. For a while after that, the girls don't see each other, and when they do meet again, Leah finds out that Jasper doesn't like to accept help. She sees Jasper's living situation, which is an abandoned shack, and learns a bit about her life. Jasper learns Leah's secret as well, but the girls get along well, and are glad to have someone with whom to spend the long summer days. When she finds out the full truth about Jasper's circumstances, Leah is afraid for her and wants to tell her parents, although she has promised not to. Eventually, Jasper does visit, gets along well with Leah's parents, and even restores them to their former involved selves a little bit. When Jasper needs Leah and her family's help, will they be able to provide it? (Trying not to spoil some of the plot elements.)
Strengths: Jasper's home reminded me a little of the shell house in Edward's Mandy, so it was interesting that Leah saw it as a kind of playhouse but it was really more serious. Jasper's circumstances are laid out in a very believable way. The friendship is a relief to both girls, and middle grade readers will relate to the idea of finding someone who lets them be themselves, despite the things that have gone on in their lives. Snyder's writing is always very vividly descriptive, easy to read, and innovative.
Weaknesses: I'm not a fan of grief being portrayed in a way that makes the characters seem completely devastated and unable to go on, especially when parents stop caring for living children. Leah mentions having been in therapy briefly; clearly, the entire family needed to go.
What I really think: Snyder's work doesn't circulate well in my library even though I love some of her titles, so I will probably not purchase this. Portraying grieving parents like this is personally hurtful to me; I just can't. The public library has a copy on order, and they deliver directly to my school.
Ms. Yingling

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