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The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Middle Grade Debut Heartfelt and Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For generations, folks in the small farming community of Maryville, North Carolina, have relied on the Bee Lady's sweet honey to heal their hurts.  The golden nectar is said to be infused with a special magic.  If there's anything 12-year-old Della Kelly needs right now it's some good juju.  Not only is her father's watermelon crop in trouble, but Della's mother is displaying the same disturbing behavior that landed her in a mental hospital once before.  As the family's financial situation deteriorates and her mom's condition worsens, the care of her baby sister falls into Della's hands.  Overwhelmed and terrified, Della knows she has to find a permanent solution to her problems.  If magic honey can't do the trick, what can?  

Where the Watermelons GrowCindy Baldwin's debut, is an atmospheric, heartfelt novel about family, mental illness, and the pain and confusion that often goes along with growing up.  Della is a sympathetic, authentic heroine—it's easy to root for her success.  My favorite aspect of the novel was the idea of the magic honey.  While I understand that Della had to learn a lesson about tackling tough problems with real solutions, I still wanted more of the magical element.  Overall, though, I enjoyed this poignant, hopeful story.  
(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Rules by Cynthia Lord)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for subject matter (erratic/dangerous behavior of a parent due to mental illness) that might be disturbing for readers under 12

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This sounds very touching, and I like the idea of the magic solution too.

  2. I'm so glad this was well done as I can imagine so many kids could identify with this in some way or another. It is too bad that it doesn't have more of a magical element though.

  3. I love how the author seems to balance the starkness of the family troubles with a bit of whimsy!

  4. This sounds like it has a sweet premise, but I'd have trouble with the magic honey. :-)


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