Thursday, August 25, 2022

Miracle Season

Hautala, Beth. Miracle Season.
August 23rd 2022 by Viking Children's Books, Penguin Young
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Persephone lives in the small town of Coulter, Wisconsin, and is suffering now that summer vacation has arrived. About a year ago, her older brother Levi graduated from high school but was then involved in a boating accident that has left him in a persistent coma. Persephone blames Levi's best friend, Joseph, for the accident, as well his sister Mya, Persephone's best friend. Her parents are stressed about medical bills, and well meaning townspeople ask too many questions. When Persephone rescues a cat from the town water tower, she runs into classmate Malachi Rathmason, and the two get involved in figuring out where the cat belongs. It turns out that Blue lives with Mrs. McCullacutty, who lives in an enormous house with overgrown gardens. At first she is very mean to the kids, but Persephone, who loves to garden and is good at making plants grow, sees helping the fractious old woman as something she can do to work towards her brother's vision of fixing up Coulter. He had even thought about applying to a television reality show they loved to watch, Small Town Revival, to see if they could win a grant to fix up their town and be on the show. When Persephone finds the application on his computer, she sends it in, but hides this from her parents, since entrants have to be over 18. She and Mal get to know Mrs. McCullacutty more as they work on her garden, and discover that she and Mal's grandfather, Dr. Rathmason, knew each other years ago. 
Strengths: Coulter is a fascinating town with lots of interesting people, and I love that Persephone and Malachi connect and then take advantage of this setting to interact with people. The inclusion of Small Town Revival is very realistically handled. Mrs. McCullacutty seemed like a washed up Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is some respects, but had a lot of fun twists to her story. It was also realistic that her parents didn't want Persephone to talk to her, but she did anyway, but then went out of her way to bring the older woman to her home to meet her parents so they would allow her to work on the garden. The inclusion of Blue's almost mystical help hit just the right note. Levi's condition is heartbreaking, but I've not seen a depiction of a critically injured sibling quite like this. Persephone's life goes on, but there are a lot of ramifications of the accident that need to be addressed. Interesting topics portrayed in a realistic and multifaceted way. 
Weaknesses: While I liked the fact that the ending does not wrap things up neatly, my students might be bothered by that. It's great that there is a message that some times bad things happen, but they can have ripple effects that cause good, but I personally believe that bad things happen all the time for no good reason whatsoever; in fact, I wake up every morning expecting nonsensical tragedy. Eleven year olds are not this jaded. Give them a few years. 
What I really think: This will be popular with readers who love old houses, family problems, and a little bit of magic (although Blue's "messages" are always couched in "the cat seemed to say", so isn't really magical). It's got a nice, small town vibe and can be suggested to readers of Baldwin's Beginner's Welcome, Urban's Almost There and Almost Not, and the Morrises' Willa and the Whale

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I think this book sounds very interesting, and what a great angle to take. Such a heart-breaking situation, and I love that she is trying to fulfil her brother's dream. Thanks for the review