Thursday, 8 March 2018

Ebb and Flow

Author: Heather Smith
Genre: Middle School, Canadian, Contemporary Fiction
Type: Paperback
Pages: 232
Source: Borrowed from co-worker
Publisher: Kids Can Press
First Published: April 3, 2018
First Line: "One summer, after a long plane ride and a rotten bad year, I went to Grandma Jo's."

Book Description from GoodReads

One summer,
after a long plane ride
and a rotten bad year
I went to Grandma Jo's.
It was my mother's idea.
Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.
I think she needed a change of scenery, too.
One without me.
Because that rotten bad year?
That was my fault.

Thus begins the poignant story, told in free verse, of eleven-year-old Jett. Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a new town for a fresh start after his father went to jail. But Jett soon learned that fresh starts aren't all they're cracked up to be. When he befriended a boy with a difficult home life, Jett found himself in a cycle of bad decisions that culminated in the betrayal of a friend - a shameful secret he still hasn't forgiven himself for. Will a summer spent with his unconventional grandmother help Jett find his way to redemption?

Writing in artfully crafted free-verse vignettes, Heather T. Smith uses a deceptively simple style to tell a powerful and emotionally charged story. The engaging narrative and the mystery of Jett's secret keep the pages turning and will appeal to both reluctant and avid readers. This captivating book offers a terrific opportunity for classroom discussions about the many ways to tell a story and how a small number of carefully chosen words can have a huge impact. It also showcases the positive character traits of empathy resilience, courage, and responsibility.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

My Review: This is a story about an eleven-year-old boy who has weathered a tough year filled with mistakes and poor judgement and now he must learn to come to terms with the consequences. Once again Smith uses her superpower of using a simpler writing style yet still conveying big issues and empathy for her main character.  Like in her previous book, The Agony of Bun O'Keefe (which I adored!), Smith deftly captures the inner talk of preteen Jett and has created a character that readers will connect with.

This simpler, free verse style of writing is a unique way to tell a story but may not be for all readers. I liked it but can't say I loved it. Yet, even with this simpler style, Smith conveys Jett's emotional journey, throws in a twist and keeps readers engaged in Jett's life. I loved the supportive and touching relationship Jett had with his grandmother. Everyone needs a Grandma Jo in their lives.

This is a heartwarming tale of an eleven-year-old boy as he weathers the ebb and flow of his sometimes tumultuous life and learns to come to terms with his past decisions. This book would be a good pick for readers from middle school to adulthood.

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