Mick Harte Was Here

Book review by
S. K. List, Common Sense Media
Mick Harte Was Here Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Difficult life-death questions are meant for discussion.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The main character humorously describes an incident when she and her brother spelled out a mildly off-color word in wet concrete.


The title character dies from head injuries received in a bike accident, not shown or described. The essence of this book is the examination of a boy's death and its effect, sometimes disturbing, on his sister and parents.


Very brief reference to birth control pills and children being "planned" or "a surprise."


Occasional mild religious-themed swearing in moments of emotional distress.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mick Harte Was Here deals with the death of a sibling. It is written with simplicity and sensitivity, as young Phoebe tells the story of losing her younger brother, Mick, in a bicycle accident, her feelings during the aftermath of his death, and her re-entry into daily life. Could be helpful for kids experiencing grief.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byReviewer Lynne January 15, 2012

A Sad, Humorous & Very Memorable Book About Choices

This book is a touching, realistic story revealing the importance of choices in life, and the consequences those choices may have, as well as dealing with the d... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 11-year-old Written byBJ63 September 16, 2010

Helping us all learn about a family coping with death.

Parents should read this book first then discuss with kids as they read the book. Excellent story about a family's reaction to the sudden death of a son.... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 20, 2012


I think this can go for many people a thought like car accident, for exaple in a car, seatbelt.On a bike ,helmet. it could be the first time, or 2nd of 16, we a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 8, 2012

READ IT, READ IT, READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it was a great book, I think when kids hit about 11 or 12 they should really read it. I LOVED it.:) :) The thing I would caution you about if you are reading al... Continue reading

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, 10 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • 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'?

Book details

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