Monday, January 14, 2013

See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles

Welcome to my first 2013 Marvelous Middle Grade Monday review! Each Monday, you can depend on me for a review of a great middle grade read. I've changed up the format, so let me know what you think.

Date Published: May 8th 2012
ISBN: 0763654078
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Themes: Bullying, loss, friendship, family, grief, siblings, LGBT

About The Book: Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.—Goodreads

First Line: The very best day of my whole life, I through up four times and had a fever of 103 degrees.

Great Quote: "The sun blasts down on me, and I feel a drip of sweat slowly slip down my chest and unto my blly button under my shirt." (73)

What Others Thought: "Prescient writing, fully developed characters and completely, tragically believable situations elevate this sad, gripping tale to a must-read level." —Kirkus Review 

"See You At Harry's is one of the most beautiful, moving books I've ever read. Full of laughter, love, and tears, it will break your heart and put it back together again, with a little more light, a little more hope than there was before.  —Kate Messner

Other Blogger Reviews:
Rather Be Reading
Paperback Treasures
Jenn Renee Review

My Analysis: 
1. Narrator/ Protagonist is twelve-year-old Fern.
2. 310 pages/ Chapter avg. length 5 pages
3. The Hook: Fern is "deathly" ill and how she became sick.
4. Inciting Event: Chapter 5 
5. Plot and Pace: Every sentence pushed the plot and never lost pace.
6. Voice: Authentic and honest

What I Thought: If this was a movie, it might have been a sleeper. An unremarkable cover, lost among the splashes of color and tantalizing adventure illustrated sleeves, See You At Harry's quietly burst forth in early May, 2012. It was on my list, but I admittedly kept pushing it back for action packed titles. It's a quiet story with a strong middle grade voice and themes that leave you running for the tissues for both laughing and crying. Knowles bravely addresses the issue of Fern's brother being bullied because he's gay. Don't miss this gem. I highly recommend this wonderful narrative that reminds all of us how precious life is and how very short it can be. 

Kirkus Reviews- Best YA Books of the Year
New York Times Notable Children's Books Best Books of the Year
YALSA Reader's Choice List Nominee
Best Fiction for Young Adults- Nominee

About The Author: Jo Knowles

Who: "In college I took a children’s literature course, got hooked, and went to grad school to learn more. There, I took a course on writing for children. I loved it so much, I decided to write my first YA novel for my graduate thesis. That semester I was lucky enough to meet Robert Cormier, my hero. I told him how his book had turned me into “a reader.” He gave me his address and said to send him my novel when I finished. That message helped me finish my book. I sent it. He wrote back and told me I had talent, and that he hoped one day my book would be published with a blurb from him on the back. I have that letter framed in my office.

"In February 2006, I sold my first novel, Lessons From A Dead Girl, to Candlewick Press. My dream of becoming a published author finally came true.

"Now, I live in Vermont with my husband and son. I’m a freelance writer, and I work on my fiction whenever I can find the time. And I read. I try to read at least one novel a week. If you want to be a writer, I suggest you try to read a book a week, too. Reading makes us better writers. I’m a firm believer in that." — Knowles Website

Be sure to stop by the other MMGM reviewers for some great reads to add to you list!

Next Week: What Came From The Stars by Gary D. Schmidt


  1. This was SO sad, and almost YA because of the extreme sadness. Very good, though!

  2. This has been on my to-read list for awhile! Love the sound of it.

  3. I think it's refreshing to have a quiet one sneak up on you like that. We need these kinds of books, too! love that a MG book tackles the issues the author does.

  4. I don't think I have heard of this one. I like that the book has so much going for it in a quiet way. I have added it to my list. :) Great review!

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