Sunday, May 30, 2021

Paper , Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea

Patrick, Cat. Paper Heart
May 11th 2021 by G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After the events in Tornado Brain, Tess is struggling. It's only been two and a half months since her friend Colette died in a terrible accident, and she can either stay home with her family for the summer or travel with an aunt and uncle to the family cabin. Since she doesn't want to have to deal with her twin Frankie, who is demanding at the best of times and newly irritating because she seems to have forgotten Colette, Tess decides to go with her aunt, uncle, older cousin Kennedy and young cousin Kane. She also gets to attend an art camp. Normally, this would be great, since she loves to draw, but even that feels impossible after losing Colette. The art class is a good diversion, and she finds an understanding friend in Izzy, a local boy who listens to her concerns without judging and eventually becomes a light romantic interest. Tess starts to imagine early on that Colette is haunting her, feeling this is evident in such things as a creepy feeling going over bridges, an old man in a yellow scarf who seems to be following her around town, and strangest of all, messages appearing in the steam of bathroom mirrors. Even though Tess doesn't believe the adults in her life who keep telling her "things will get better", the pain of losing Colette becomes less raw, dealing with Frankie becomes easier, and life does go on. 
Strengths: I liked the idea of a "paper heart"-- when you crumple one, you can smooth it out, but the lines are still there. It's used in the book as an example of how harsh words affect people, and I'd just never heard that. My favorite part of the book was Frankie's way of dealing with grief and bad thoughts: she schedules one minute a day to allow herself to think about such things, and schedules that minute for 1:00 a.m., when she is asleep! Kennedy was a fun character, with her affected, Goth-style wardrobe and attitude, and Kane (who is about four) was very sweet. The adults are all supportive in appropriate ways. The summer art class was a good touch. I think there are a lot of middle graders who spend their summers at day camps of some sort, and there aren't a lot of books that deal with that setting. The exploration of how Tess deals with her twin's autism spectrum quirks will resonate with many readers. 
Weaknesses: While Tess has a therapist, and the mother and aunt are very concerned about Tess, she doesn't seem to be getting enough counseling early in the book. Since she feels guilty about Colette's death, this is an added concern. She is shown at the end to be on medication and to be getting more help.
What I really think: This is perfect for fans of Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish, Stokes' Fadeaway, Connor's The Ethan I Was Before or for readers who want to know more about the characters in Tornado Brain.

Blake, Ashley Herring. Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea
May 25th 2021 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Hazel's mother, reeling from the death of her wife, has moved Hazel and her sister Peach to various rentals, but finally comes back to the East Coast town where she grew up. There, she reconnects with her childhood best friend, who is dealing with the death of her daughter Lemon's twin. Hazel and Lemon spend the summer hanging out with friends in the seaside town, investigating the local legend of a girl who became a mermaid. Hazel and Jules, who is nonbinary, develop a nascent romantic relationship. When the mother's become involved, Hazel worries that this will prevent her family from returning home. Fans of this authors other works will enjoy this summer at the seaside, working through grief and looking for a way forward.

I loved the LGBTQIA+ representation, but would love to see books that have this without being so sad. 

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