Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick, Quirky MG Novel Asks What's Really Important

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In Dennis Acres, Missouri (Population: 53), deep, dark family secrets aren't buried, they're discussed—at the gas station, the post office, the Mexican restaurant (no need to specify which one since there's only one), even on the local radio station.  Benny Summer would prefer to keep his family issues on the down low, but that's just not happening.  Everyone knows his mother took off.  And now that his father's junk shop has closed, meaning their house is crammed to the rafters with useless stuff, it's pretty easy to see the truth about that, too.  There's no use denying it:  Benny's got an absent mom and a dad who cares more about his possessions than his marriage.  Or his son.  It's more than the 12-year-old can handle.

Things take a turn for the worse when Benny's teacher enters Dennis Acres in a contest for America's Most Charming Small Town.  With everyone in town putting the pressure on Benny's dad to clean up, Benny doesn't know what to expect—salvation or disaster?

Homesick (available September 18, 2012), a new middle grade novel by Kate Klise, is a quick, quirky story about a boy and his strangled relationship with his father.  Using the issue of compulsive hoarding as a backdrop, Klise weaves a tale that asks the reader to consider what's really important in life.  Young audiences likely won't care about the book's lesson, they'll simply be drawn to Benny with his authentic voice, his heart-tugging plight, and his cast of oddball friends.  The very contrived ending kind of soured me on the story, but, all in all, I enjoyed Homesick.   

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and Keepsake by Kristina Riggle)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for mild language (no F-bombs) and intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Homesick from the generous folks at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan).  Thank you!   

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