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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Quiet, Contemplative MG Novel an Ode to the Power of Imagination and Friendship

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone thinks 11-year-old Ware is a space cadet, but he's perfectly happy spending all his time in his own little world.  His grand imagination allows him to be anything he wants to be, including a heroic Medieval knight.  When his plans for a quiet summer being left pretty much to his own devices goes awry, Ware finds himself enrolled in a day camp at the local rec center with a bunch of other kids his age.  Meaningful social interaction is not Ware's idea of a good time, so when he happens upon a secret oasis—an abandoned church next to the rec center—he sees an unparalleled opportunity to duck out of camp and make his own fun.  The only problem is that someone else has already claimed the space and she does not want him there.  When Ware convinces scrappy Jolene to let him help her develop the old church into their own private playground, the two embark on a tentative friendship that might finally help two lonely misfits find belonging.  Then, an outside "enemy" starts to threaten their sanctuary.  Well versed in the knights' code of honor, Ware vows to protect their territory at all costs.  Can he and his new friend save the place that has sustained and nurtured them all summer?  Or will everything they've worked so hard to build be destroyed by the swing of a wrecking ball?

Here in the Real World, a middle-grade novel by genre veteran Sara Pennypacker, is a quiet, contemplative book.  The plot is compelling, the characters are likable, and the prose is assured.  While the story isn't exactly action-packed, it's still engrossing and enjoyable.  The tale teaches valuable lessons about friendship, being yourself, working together, finding one's strengths, etc.  Overall, it's a empowering, uplifting novel that I liked, didn't love.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for difficult subject matter (alcoholism, parental abandonment, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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