Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Stepmom Shake-up

Lenz, Niki. The Stepmom Shake-up
June 16th 2020 by Random House
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Grace and her father are doing as well as can be expected after the death of her mother three years ago; they are now Team Gravy (Grace and Davy). Her father is a pastor at a  local church, and his parishioners bring up that it's not good for him to be alone and that he should start dating. Grace thinks this is ludicrous, but her father sees some merit in it. Along with her friend Bea, Grace decides to sabotage her father's dating efforts. Bea has her own problems-- after years of being an only child, her parents have adopted a relative's toddler, who is causing havoc in their household. Grace doesn't want her household to experience the same fate. She messes with her father's online dating account, and undermines several of his dates. Eventually, she realizes that her father might like her teacher, Miss O'Connor, and her teacher may feel the same way. Finally understanding that her father is sometimes lonely, Grace tries to encourage the two in all things romantic, but comes up against many obstacles. Grace and her father are very interested in history, so Grace tries to use this as a way to lure Miss O'Connor into activities that might bring her closer to her father. Will she be successful?
Strengths: There are not many middle grade novels with parents who are ministers, and this was rather interesting! I loved that even though the father was a man of the cloth, the book had more of the social aspects of the church than religious ones, which are fine but usually kind of boring. Grace's doubts about her father dating are very realistic, and her journey towards understanding his emotions (and her own) was well done. I loved Miss O'Connor, too! Bea's plight added some humor to the story, and I also enjoyed the details of doing over the attic room and making period costumes in order to portray Teddy Roosevelt and Alice. Very fun!
Weaknesses: While it was funny, it seemed a bit unrealistc that Bea's new toddler brother would be so ill-behaved.
What I really think: This has a fantastic cover, and I will definitely purchase for fans of Elly Swartz's One Smart Cookie, Kyi's Me and Banksy,  and Weston's Speed of Life.
Ms. Yingling

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