In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart (October 9, 2018, Delacorte Press, 336 pages, for ages 8 to 12).
Synopsis (from the publisher):
Miles is an anxious boy who loves his family's bowling center.
Amy is the new girl at school, who tries to write her way to her own happily-ever-after and does not want to live above her uncle's funeral home
Then Miles and Amy meet in the most unexpected way... and it is the beginning of everything.
Why I recommend it: The publisher's synopsis doesn't tell you much, but this is one of those sort-of-sad-but-not-too-sad books about a dead mother, specifically Amy's. However, Miles is dealing with his own grief, having recently lost his beloved grandmother. But the way they meet is more like slapstick humor (his bowling shoe, tossed in the air, meets her forehead) and there's a lot of realistic middle-school awkwardness along the way. I'd almost tag this Upper MG because one of the major plot points involves a school dance and the ensuing drama.
The characters are delightfully real, the dialogue is spot-on, and the setting is small-town Pennsylvania (woo hoo!). There's a wonderful, caring librarian named Mr. Schu (which, no doubt, some of you will understand, besides the obvious homonym). The only thing I could have done without is the nosy narrator intruding every once in a while. Just let me lose myself in the story! Don't keep reminding me it's a story.
It's not a big deal, though, because Donna Gephart has mastered this dual POV novel (in third person), and she's not afraid to delve into difficult questions of life and death, of shyness, and of overcoming odds, both physical and emotional. In lesser hands it would have fallen apart.
Favorite lines: (from p. 37) Get up, sweets. You're not going to let a little thing like an airborne bowling shoe hold you back. Are you?
Amy shook her head in answer. She loved when her mom's voice floated into her head. It seemed to come when she needed it most, and it made her feel less alone, more brave.
Visit Donna Gephart
It's important for MG readers to understand how to deal with grief. I'm interested in the dual POV you're talking about. Thanks for the recommendation, Joanne!ReplyDelete
You're welcome, Violet. There really aren't many MG books that deal in a sensitive way with losing a parent or grandparent.Delete
Sounds like a great book for kids who do sadly have to deal with grief like adults. I'll add it to my list because I'm always looking for books dealing with these issues. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Hi Natalie. Yes, sadly, some kids do have to deal with grief. So it's nice to have a few titles you can turn to.Delete
I'd seen the cover for this one and wasn't sure what it was about. Your description filled in the blanks. I like the scenario of a bowling alley and two kids hurt by loss. I've added it to my list and hope to get to it this year. Thanks for the review.ReplyDelete
Hi Greg. I felt the same way seeing the cover. Was it only about bowling? Or two kids who meet through a flying-shoe accident? Some books you just have to pick up and read.Delete
Great review. I'm looking forward to reading this one.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Beth. That's kind of you. Hope you do get a chance to read it.Delete
The title had me thinking a entirely different theme for this book -- like you don't really know who it is for someone until you walk in their shoes. I love the cover and the idea of two kids meeting in a bowling alley. Thanks for the heads up. It sounds like a good read.ReplyDelete
Good point, Patricia. I suppose that's part of what this novel is about, but not the obvious theme.Delete
Kids do need to know how to deal with grief, all kinds of grief. Thanks for telling me about this one. I will check it out.ReplyDelete
You're quite welcome, Rosi!Delete
I'm seeing this book mentioned a lot. I need to look for it!ReplyDelete
It's a great read, Michael. And thanks for stopping by!Delete
I'm dying to read this~ I love Donna's books. My local library system (Berks County) doesn't have it in their system. I'm going to a branch after work today to ask them to acquire it. Hope you're doing well!ReplyDelete
Hi Jess! Miss seeing you. Hope your library gets a copy for you.Delete