Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Heart Finds

Berry, Jaime. Heart Finds
November 15, 2022 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Mabel lives in Oklahoma with her mother, who works with a wedding planner, and spends a lot of time with her grandfather, who loves to go "treasure hunting" in various dumpsters, secondhand stores, and any other place that may have good junk free (or cheap). He had been a banker, and has a house in a pricey part of town, but now spends his days on his collections. Mabel likes to spend time with him, and finds his presence comforting. Her mother is very driven, and very interested in table design competitions, which use all new things. She has some disdain for her father and daughter's love of trash. Mabel's best friend, Ashley, soent the summerr at church camp, and made friends with the snooty Farrah. This makes middle school harder, especially when Mabel's classmates catch a glimpse of her grandfather dumpster diving and make fun of him. This leads Mabel to distance herself a little, and when her grandfather has a stroke out hunting by himself, Mabel feels guilty. Grampa ends up in the hospital, and then in the Whispering Pines nursing facility. This stresses Mabel's mother out, since she is trying to earn her way to the national tabletop design competition. She also starts to talk about selling the grandfather's house, since the taxes are high and money for therapy and care is tight. Mabel befriends Jasper, whose mother works at Whispering Pines, and comes up with a plan to help fund Grampa's care by selling some of what she finds to her grandfather's contacts. Jasper is glad to help, since his outspoken fashion sense hasn't gone over too well with his new classmates. As her mother spends more and more time working on her designs, Mabel worries about her grandfather's health and future, and is dismayed when her mother starts to sell off some of Grampa's things. As the big table decorating contest nears (where decorating celebrity Arletta Paisley from Hope Springs will be speaking!), Mabel has some plans to have one of her grandfather's "heart finds" valued by a antiques show personality in hopes that the money from it can fund some care. Will she be able to work with her mother to iron out all of the messiness in her life? 
Strengths: Well, I absolutely loved this one. We are inveterate fans of secondhand items in my family; if there's anything on the curb when we're out driving, every head turns to check it out. The Oklahoma junk shops reminded me of some of the ones I've visited in rural Iowa, and it was just pure fun to see Mabel and her grandfather tool around in his truck and look for good junk. Cameos by specific glassware didn't hurt either! Of course, there has to be more to the story than that. The friend drama with Ashley was absolutely perfect, and will resonate with middle school students who have had a friend decide that they no longer had anything in common any more. Making a new friend with Jasper was also well done. The Whispering Pines community was interesting; I always enjoy seeing grandparents in middle grade books, but they are often getting on in years and apt to experience some health problems. Mabel's relationship with her mother was also interesting and realistic. All of these elements worked well together, with Mabel's anxiety swirling around in a well developed plot. Including Arletta Paisley was just the final dusting of glitter on a perfectly arranged table setting of a book! 
Weaknesses: The cover is a bit odd and doesn't quite capture the essence of the book for me. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing this one. It might take some hand selling, but will be the perfect book for the right reader. 
 Ms. Yingling

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