Jennifer Blecher; Merrilee Liddiard (Illustrator)
Like many, I was eagerly awaiting Blecher’s debut novel, and I am glad that we were rewarded for our patience with a stunningly complex work that can be enjoyed by middle grade readers and beyond.
First let’s dive into the setting, which I found extremely unique. Most of this book’s chapters take place in beautiful Martha’s Vineyard. I note this because the author takes such incredible care to make Martha’s Vineyard a tangible, fully realized community that you will feel that like our young protagonist cover, you have lived there all your life. I love novels that create a world that feels itself like a living breathing character, unfortunately this is found much more in YA and adult literature, but the compelling setting of this debut reinforces its already strong narrative.
At its core this is a book about perseverance, and finding happiness and self-acceptance where you already are. When Cove’s best friend moves to New York City, Cove is left at the mercy (or lack thereof) of a middle school bullying campaign. Instead of standing her ground Cove tries to depart for the supposedly more welcoming confines of New York City before a major setback forces Cove to confront not only her bullies, family, and friends but herself.
Not your usual anti-bullying narrative this middle grade page turner features a complex and flawed protagonist experiencing a profound arc of self-discovery and acceptance in a journey that shows her happiness might not be that far from home after all.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- “Blecher’s debut is a sensitive and compassionate tribute to every child who has ever felt like a misfit. . . .vibrant and memorable. Cove is an emotionally intelligent heroine who successfully names and processes her feelings. A beautiful story about learning to speak up and taking risks.” (School Library Journal)
“[A] thought-provoking tale of childhood isolation and powerlessness experienced in a socially networked world . . . this recommended read should spark lively discussion; a good bet for an intergenerational book club. ” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Blecher has created a sweet and realistically vulnerable character who longs to feel validated and respected. . . . This is a tender, uncomplicated coming-of-age story that illustrates how hard it can be to fit in at any age.” (Publishers Weekly)