I am thankful to be a NetGalley member and read books prior to their publishing dates to give my thoughtful reviews and remarks. Beth Turley mixed some hard-to-manage emotions with some sense of belonging in this new story that released May 5th. I hope you enjoy this review!
An emotional rollercoaster of a story. This is one that pulled at my heart strings over and over again. Cassi Chord is half-caucasian, half-Puerto Rican, but others see her as anything but Hispanic. She questions herself over and over again like she’s been struck by a plague. Many people are dumbfounded when they realize that she is indeed Puerto Rican. Her sister Daniella looks like the “typical” Puerto Rican, dark hair and golden skin.
Through this crisis of trying to understand why she doesn’t seem to belong, she gets distracted with new friendships and the Math Olympics at her school. She meets the new boy in school named Aaron in her Math Olympics club. What’s odd is that he has these stories, stories of all of the tree towns he’s lived in. Cassi finds comfort in learning about these stories and more about Aaron. What she doesn’t find comforting is that her sister, Daniella, has changed. Dramatically. Ever since she started high school she has been distant, hardly talks to her, and is always angry or sharp with her.
As the story progresses Beth Turley takes us through the seasons of the struggles of Cassi (even Aaron) and her sister. The sense of loss of a sister, depression, new friendships, and belonging are all main themes embedded in this story. Middle grade doesn’t hit on depression often with younger kids so I am glad that this book brings it to the surface. It shows how Daniella struggled through it and even discusses getting a therapist when things get way too tough.
I adored this story from start to end and I am thankful that a book like this is accessible to middle grade students.
About the Author
Beth Turley is a graduate of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing program at Western Connecticut State University. She lives and writes in southeastern Connecticut, where the leaves changing color feels like magic and the water is never too far away. She is the author of If This Were a Story and The Last Tree Town. Visit her on Twitter @Beth_Turley.
I love finding books that dig into a serious topic for middle grade readers. Do you have any other books you suggest that do the same? Share below!