Monday, March 25, 2019

Book Review | WHERE THE HEART IS by Jo Knowles

A bittersweet coming-of-age story.
April 2, 2019,
Candlewick Press
If a home is where the heart is, what would happen if you lost it? Compassion and humor infuse the story of a family caught in a financial crisis and a girl struggling to form her own identity. -Goodreads

WHERE THE HEART IS is an important book that kids and teens will definitely relate to. Jo Knowles handled a topic, not most adults will discuss with their kids. Rachel's parents are almost always arguing about finances and unpaid bills. As the story unfolds, it's easy to surmise that the family could hardly afford their basic needs, let alone their house mortgage, even with Rachel's summer job. 

Rachel is a very responsible young girl. She carries a huge weight on her shoulders at this early age, but she does it anyway. She cannot even focus on herself and understand her feelings about boys and girls -Why she wants to be best friends with Micah but doesn't like boys? And why can a girl give her hummingbird feelings? She cannot discuss it with her parents because she doesn't want to add to their worries. On top of that, she has her little sister, Ivy, to shield from all the pain their family is going through.
When you learn vocabulary words in school, you memorize the definition. And you have a good idea of what the words mean. But it’s not until you feel them that you really grasp the definition. I have known what the word ‘helpless’ means for a long time. And ‘desperate.’ But I’ve never felt them. Feeling them is different. They fill your chest with a horrible sense of ‘dread’ and ‘guilt’ and ‘despair.’ Those are more vocabulary words that you can’t fully understand until you feel them.
This is a complex and rich coming-of-age-book. Both poverty and sexual orientations are sensitive matters and families need all the help and ideas so they can be more open about it. I recommend this book, especially for a classroom setting or book club discussion.

Book details:
Author:  Jo Knowles
Publication:  April 2, 2019; Candlewick Press
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

*Thank you Netgalley and Candlewick Press for the DRC in exchange for this unbiased book review.
*This review contains a quote from an uncorrected proof.


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