Monday, June 4, 2018


From the publisher

JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS by Melissa Sarno  (June 5, 2018,  Knopf /Penguin Random House, 240 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

SYNOPSISIS (from the publisher):

Can you still have a home if you don't have a house?

Always think in threes and you'll never fall, Cora's father told her when she was a little girl. Two feet, one hand. Two hands, one foot. That was all Cora needed to know to climb the trees of Brooklyn.

But now Cora is a middle schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father's death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who's just... different, their mother insists. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can't help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?

After their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora's mother looks to an old friend for help, and Cora finally finds what she has been looking for: Ailanthus altissima, the "tree of heaven," which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she really belongs.

Why I recommend it:

I love finding a new MG author and a new book that touches me deeply while also appealing to readers who are looking for "issue books". This one is so much more than an issue book. It's bursting with character, voice, and a gorgeous sense of place. Even if you've never been to Brooklyn, you'll feel you've known it forever. Mostly, though, it's Cora who will grab your heart from the first page.

Imagine how thrilled I was to receive a review copy from Knopf of JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS. I've been following Melissa for many years on social media and I could tell by her posts that she's a wonderful writer. Now you can find out for yourself by buying and reading this lovely book. The story line is captivating. The characters feel ultra-real, the metaphors and similes are gorgeous. I can't wait to see what Melissa comes up with next.

Favorite lines:

From p. 3: Adare was born special, Mom always says. She tells the story like it's a legend. She talks about the wind that night, in its quickening swirl... She talks about the moment Adare came into the world without a sound ---Not blue, no, more like lavendar, like sunset--and in that moment all the oxygen gone from the world, the trees forgetting to breathe their gift, Adare forgetting, too.

From p. 86: Meredith Crane parades past, her friends cascading behind her like a frilly gown draping the floor.

Visit Melissa Sarno