The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. 312 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 1, 2014. 9780399163937. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)
The only family twelve-year-old Grace has known her whole life was her mother, who up and moved them whenever she got the itch. Grace was tired of their itinerant ways and told her mother so- the night before she died. She wanted to stay put with Mrs. Greene and her daughter, Lacey, Grace's best friend. Now Grace not only finds herself without Mrs. Greene but in the custody of a grandmother she never knew, a grandmother, according to her mother, who never wanted her.
Oh my. What a lovely, poignant and heartbreaking book this is! There's a beautiful blurb by Richard Peck on the cover and it has received starred reviews from PW and SLJ as well as a warm and positive review from Kirkus. What more can I add? Not much, except that this story and Grace's voice has stuck with me since early May when I first read the book. It has it all - voice, lovely setting, memorable characters, and gorgeous cover. It's perfect. There will be tears, but also a few chuckles and maybe a bit of irritation with Grace along the way to a well and truly satisfying conclusion.
Grace's mother was an artist who loved poetry and imbued a love of poetry into her daughter, who loves to write but finds she can't since she discovered her mother's body down by the river.
"I noticed you aren't carrying around your notebook. I used to think it was stuck to your armpit," Mrs. Greene said.
It was too confusing to explain my thoughts on Before and After, since I wasn't real firm on it myself. "I haven't much felt like writing."
"I don't much feel like taking my fiber in the morning. But I need it." (p. 181)
Mrs. Greene is such a wise and wonderful character in a story filled with vivid characters.
"You will go your whole life, Gracie May, and every single person in it will fail you in one way or another. It's all about the repair. It's all about letting yourself change those pictures."
"Maybe the repair is Grandma's job. Maybe that's why Mama never went back."
"This isn't like a hole in a boat, where you get yourself some wood and some patching and you're good to go. It's a two-person job."
"So maybe I need Grandma to make the first move."
"Hasn't she?" (pp. 188-89)
This auspicious debut is a must purchase. It is a 2014 favorite of mine. I would not be surprised to hear about it come next January. Give it to your thoughtful tween readers who love weepies, lovely, layered writing, or who loved Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.
Many thanks to Stacey Barney for sending this to me. I'm sorry I took so long to write about it.