Sunday, August 21, 2022

If You Read This

Getten, Kereen. If You Read This
August 16th 2022 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley
Brie still misses her impulsive, ebullient mother three years after her death from cancer. Her father, Papa, spends too much time at his job as a resort manager near their gated community on their island (which I assume is Jamaica, although this is not stated). This leaves her in the care of her Nana, who is somewhat old fashioned and not as much fun as her mother. When Brie has a huge 12th  birthday celebration, her best friends Femi and Smiley attend, along with lots of family members. She gets lots of great gifts, but is sad that Papa has to work again. Her Nana gives her one final gift... a letter from her mother. Her mother had always done treasure hunts with her, and left a special one for her 12th birthday, The first clue tells Briw to go to "the place summer never ends", and Brie knows this must mean her grandfather's house, Brim's Island.  It is filled with all manner of plants and fun objects, and her mother mentions a secret room that her father had put aside for her. Brie needs to go to the house, find the key, and look for the door to the secret room, but her father has to work and doesn't want to take her. She arranges with an uncle and aunt to take a bus there with Nana and her friends, but since her grandfather is in a care home suffering from dementia, she doesn't know if she will be able to get further clues or the key from him. She manages to get her grandfather to run away and hide on the bus, but has to let her family know when he goes missing once she gets them home. He has the key, and manages to give her enough information for the next clue. Her uncle decides that the grandfather can visit on the weekends when there are people around to keep an eye on him, and he can feel free. Will Brie be able to figure out her mother's puzzles as well as the puzzle that is her Papa?
Strengths: Turning 12 is a big deal, and I can't imagine havin lost my mother before that age. This was an interesting look at how families continue on, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, after the death of a key member. While the father does care for Brie, he finds it hard to spend time with her. The treasure hunt, and the trip to a beloved family home with supportive family was fun to read. There aren't as many details about like in Jamaica, as there are in this author's When Life Gives You Mangoes, but there are a few glimpses of the ocean and a bit of flavor through the grandmother's speech and cooking. 
Weaknesses: This ended a bit suddenly. Also, as someone whose mother was in a care home for a number of years before her death from Parkinson's, I'm never a fan of painting care homes as unpleasant places designed to take away someone's freedom. Sometimes they are far safer for an elderly person than being cared for by loved ones at home.
What I really think:This is a good choice for readers who want gentle, lyrical books that deal with grief by working in some mystery that a young person has to solve, like Guterson The Einsteins of Vista Point , Dilloways' Where the Sky Lives, Arnold's Just Harriet and Urban's Almost There and Almost Not. 

Ms. Yingling

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