Monday, February 15, 2021

AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke, for #IMWAYR (It's Monday! What are you reading?)

 



An Occasionally Happy Family by Cliff Burke (May 18, 2021, HMH, for ages 8 to 12)

This is one of the funniest books I've read from The21ders, my debut group of MG and YA authors. But there's also a touching undercurrent of sadness running through it. 

Heartfelt doesn't begin to describe it.

Thirteen-year-old Theo's mom died two years ago, and he and his dad and his fifteen-year-old sister, Laura, still haven't really talked about it. Then Dad informs the siblings they're going on a road trip to go camping in the hottest park in Texas during the hottest part of the summer, with a promised surprise at the end. Neither Theo nor Laura want to go on this trip and would prefer to spend all their time in air conditioning and on their phones. 

What follows is hilarious, as one disaster after another befalls the family, from a broken cooler that turns their lunch to mush, to a vlogging teen hiker who tries to include Laura in his vlogs, to a bear in their campsite, to a naked elderly couple in the Hot Springs. But what you'll love most about this book is the spot-on dialog between the siblings and their father. Judicious use of dialog tags, and a finely-tuned ear for the way kids really speak makes this dialog sound like a real family squabbling and teasing each other. Plenty of snark. And I never lost track of who was speaking.

When Dad's "surprise" turns out to be a new girlfriend, Theo and Laura react as any grieving kids would. Long before the end, you'll fall in love with this family, and your heart will ache for them to finally talk about their feelings.

A winner in my book!


You can pre-order AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY from Bookshop!

Other pre-order info and more on Cliff Burke's website



#IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop hosted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor TextsVisit their blogs to see all the participants.

24 comments:

  1. It really does sound like fun along with the heartache, too. Thanks for the share!

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  2. I have my eye out for this one. Great review!!

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  3. Thanks for the heads up about this book It sound like the kind of MG novel I love!

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    1. Glad to be the one to tell you about it, Cheriee. Hope you get a chance to read it.

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  4. This sounds like a great book for MG readers. So many these days are dealing with similar themes in their lives. Glad to hear it is funny as well as serious. Humor is such a salvation in difficult times. Great review.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I agree that humor really helps in difficult times.

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  5. So glad you found this to be funny and liked this so much. I'll be featuring Cliff on the blog closer to his release date and am hoping to read, especially after your review.

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    1. Excellent, Natalie! I'll look forward to your feature with Cliff.

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  6. This sounds like a good one! Death is so hard for children to work through, but books certainly can help!

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    1. Oh yes, Leigh Anne! Books are exactly what kids need for serious issues like this.

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  7. Sounds like a good one. It also sounds a bit like those disaster vacation movies, like Vacation. Anyone with a family has had one of those.

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    1. Ha ha, true, Liz! But this book has far more depth than those movies (however funny they may be).

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  8. Thanks for an introduction into this book, and the detailed description of it.

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  9. It sounds like this book juggles painful topics and fun moments very well! Talk about an unpleasant surprise for the kids. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Thanks, Completely! (And sorry I just saw your comment! It got lost somehow!)

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  10. Aw, this sounds sweet. I wish I could write funny!

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  11. Totally agree with your assessment, Joanne! I loved how Cliff balanced the grief and anger with hilarity.

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  12. Thank you for the share, Joanne. I'm adding this one to my list!

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