Saturday, August 01, 2020

Seven Clues to Home

Polisner, Gae and Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Seven Clues to Home
June 9th 2020 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

It's Joy's 13th birthday, but it doesn't feel like a celebration to her; it's also been a year since her best friend, Lukas, died in an accident. Told is alternating viewpoints, we see Lukas planning a birthday scavenger hunt the previous year, and Joy going through the clues a year later. From the pizza restaurant where they ate frequently, to the second hand shop where Lukas' family sold family items to make ends meet, to a park where they had a particularly fun time, we, along with Joy, revisit places that give her fond memories of her friend as she comes to terms with his death. We also get a glimpse into Lukas' life, which was complicated by things like the death of his father, a boyfriend of his mother's who ended up having trouble and left the family, and his brother's behavioral problems. Through it all, we get a good sense of the depth of their friendship, and an inkling that Lukas' nascent romantic feelings would have been returned if he hadn't passed away.
Strengths: This is certainly a lyrical and poignant tale of love and loss. Akin to The Ethan I Was Before , Haydu's, The Someday Suitcase, or Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish, this is one of the few books that work through the process of grieving a friend rather than a parent, grapndparent or sibling. It's nice to see the connections that the two had, and the tender regard in which they held each other. There's a bit of action in following the clues, and the story moves along quickly.
Weaknesses: There was a mention early on that Joy's parents had thought she should see a therapist other than the one at school, but she doesn't seem to have. It would have been nice if Joy was seeing someone; she clearly needed more help than she was getting dealing with this trauma.
What I really think: I don't have a lot of students ask for books such as this, but it is a great choice where there is a need for books about the grieving process.
Ms. Yingling

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