A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Secret Hum of a Daisy is about a girl forced to live with her estranged grandmother after her mother dies in an accident. There are some intense plot points: Before Grace was born, her father and grandfather died in a car accident (and her father's parents died in a fire); a young boy is in remission from cancer; a baby horse has a life-threatening illness. Also, Grace's mom got pregnant with her while she was still a teenager and unmarried, and her grandmother sent her away. Initially, Grace acts out, but she eventually learns to forgive the grandma who "walked out to meet me halfway" and to begin healing after her mother's tragic death. Reading this book could lead to some good discussions about grieving, the power of ritual, and the importance of forgiveness.
What's the story?
Grace and her artistic, free-spirited mother have never put down roots, something the 12-year-old is really starting to hate. But when her mother dies in a tragic accident, Grace is forced to move again to live with the grandmother who shipped her pregnant daughter away when she was still a teen. Grace is determined to cause enough trouble to be sent away, too, back to the home she and her mother shared with a warm family before that tragic night. But as she and her grandmother start to unpack the past and she meets other wonderful residents of the small town who share stories about her parents as well as their own heartbreaks, Grace begins to "finally feel I am where I'm supposed to be."
Is it any good?
Readers will certainly fall in love with the small town full of quirky, loving characters, but they may not be all that convinced of its believability. THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY is filled to the brim with plot lines, ranging from Grace's belief that her mother is sending her clues from beyond the grave to the request of her friend Jo's little brother -- whose cancer is in remission -- to have an Egyptian-style entombment party. The author's imaginative details about the nature-inspired art Grace's mother created, or the idyllic park her grandmother helped her community build, will leave readers wishing they could swing by for a visit, even while they'll know such a place couldn't really exist.
What's more real is Grace's grief: Even when the 12-year-old acts up or yells at her grandmother, it's easy to empathize with her as she sorts through complicated feelings of anger, sadness, and even guilt. It's hard not to get a lump in the throat as she and her grandmother get to a place where they can finally begin to heal together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about death. What other stories can you think of that feature the death of a parent? Why is this a common theme?
Which death rituals are described in The Secret Hum of a Daisy? How do rituals help us get through intense moments?
What role does art and creativity play in this story? Characters write, make sculptures, make films, garden, and even cook to express themselves and work through pain. What do you think of this idea?
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