What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids who want -- or need -- this book will love it, while others will decisively pass over its plain-spoken strengths out of a desire for distance from the subject.
What's the story?
Phoebe tells the story of her brother Mick's death in a bicycle accident, and its aftermath. Tracing the unpredictable, lonely path a bereaved family travels toward recovery, Barbara Park paints a very individual but ultimately universal portrait of memory and grief with acute insight.
Through funny and poignant memories, eighth-grader Phoebe Harte introduces her brother Mick, ten months younger, and tells the story of his fatal accident. She then describes her reactions and experiences over the ensuing days. She attends his funeral, interment, and memorial service, and gradually is comforted by her best friend, her spiritual intuition, and her family. As she struggles with her feelings, she makes a re-entry into daily life and school, finding setbacks, support, and, finally, stability.
Is it any good?
This book is a demonstration of the devastating power of simplicity. With breathtaking economy and precise strokes, Barbara Park brings Mick Harte and his sister Phoebe to vivid life. And because Park gives Phoebe such a distinct, genuine voice, her reactions are real and familiar. Park moves the reader back and forth, from Mick to his sister, gradually disengaging them, separating the tightly interwoven strands of their lives, until Phoebe can stand alone. The author makes hardly a misstep; all the book's elements are tied together with enormous skill. Even the lesson about wearing bicycle helmets is made so directly and simply that it doesn't seem at all preachy. In fact, when the father wishes he had made Mick wear his, it's one of the book's most moving moments.
Not all young readers will want or be able to handle the questions Park asks. But those who do will find that, with MICK HARTE WAS HERE, "here" is a lasting place in their hearts.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the characters' reactions to losing a loved one. How does Pheobe handle the tragedy? Is her reaction different from her parents'?