readingcook

See You at Harry’s

In YA Book Reviews on November 27, 2013 at 3:23 am

9780763664558_p0_v2_s260x420

 by Jo Knowles

Middle-grade Realistic Fiction/©2012/310 pages/Recommended for 6th grade and up

Publisher’s Blurb (Goodreads):

Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, “All will be well,” is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

My Thoughts:

This is a very serious read, and you will find yourself crying a lot. Yet, I still say it is well worth the read. It reminded me in many ways of Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson, another excellent book. See You at Harry’s was especially strong in terms of character development. Quiet, introspective Fern is the narrator, who shares her perspective of of each of her family members in such a way that readers are able to sympathize with each of the characters. Fern’s voice is distinct and engaging, often with shades of unintentional humor. I especially give Knowles credit for the way she depicted the brother’s changes and how the family dealt with that. The plot had some twists and turns, meaning that things didn’t happen as I was thinking they would, but they resulted in making the emotions become even more palpable, and the characters more real. Relationships are an intrinsic part of the the story line particularly the bond between Holden and Fern—and later, with Sara, as well as Fern’s friendship with Ran and Cassie—which also adds a minor love triangle to the mix. This novel covers some heavy themes: guilt, regret, responsibility, loss, one’s role within a family, and moving on, and Knowles manages to weave these issues within her story seamlessly and sensitively.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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