Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 Counting Thyme


Middle school is hard. There are so many things to deal with - harder classes, hormones, feeling stuck between being a little kid and being a teenager - being a tween is tough for nearly everyone. But it's harder for Thyme. Her younger brother had cancer and has been accepted into a drug trial, so the entire family has to move from San Diego to New York. Talk about culture shock! It's nearly the middle of the school year, they have to move at Thanksgiving and go from their house to a 3 -bedroom apartment. No dinner with Grandma. No sleepovers with Thyme's best friend Shani. Everything is different and all she wants is to go back home. So she comes up with a plan. She begins saving the slips for special time that her parents give her for doing chores and being helpful. When she has enough saved up, then she'll cash them in for a trip back home. In the meantime she will just have to hang on in this strange place and new school.

Thyme's story reminds us of that famous line, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." She doesn't mean to get attached to any of her classmates, or care about the Valentine's Dance or the school play, or to make friends with the grumpy neighbor in the apartment below theirs, but it happens. And there she is, feeling guilty for wanting to leave and, at the same time, feeling guilty for starting to feel at home in New York. The normal middle school events like the dance, the play, the drama between friends, the crush (?) on a boy, seem to make the extraordinary things her family is dealing with stand out more in contrast. We can see why she doesn't tell anyone at school about her brother, because she doesn't want to become known as the cancer boy's sister rather than having an identity of her own.

This is such a well written story that it actually seems we can smell the peanuts from the vendor on the corner, hear Mr. Lipinsky banging on his ceiling, and taste the fresh-baked Italian Cream cake that Mrs. Ravelli makes. More importantly, we can feel the same lump in the throat that Thyme feels when things become strained with Shani or when her homesickness wells up. One of my favorite parts (besides Val's superhero costumes), is when Thyme reads No Fits, Nilson! to Val. Book references within a story, ahhh.

A great middle grade read for those who enjoy realistic fiction featuring family and friends.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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