A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Protesting situations in a manner that places a younger sibling in danger.
Violence & Scariness
Death of sibling. Father's desertion. Control conflicts between a preteen and an adult older sister.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the beautifully handled nonlinear plot and the vivid language keep readers engaged, but the slow, sad story makes it less appealing.
Is It Any Good?
The moving story line highlights the shattering effect of grief in 12-year-old Willa Jo Dean's family. It echoes Willa Jo's fragmentary process of working through grief over her baby sister's death and its debilitating effects on Mom. It also adds to the satisfaction of the family reunion at book's end. Some children may have a hard time with the sad topic and the slow pace of the story.
Willa Jo is portrayed as a spunky girl fighting to help her sister, while struggling to be of help to Mom, by living with rule-making Aunt Patty. Willa Jo sounds adult, partly as a result of the book's engaging Southern voice and partly because she's the older sister.
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