My choice last week was for younger middle grade readers, so this week I’m featuring a book for older ones. This is an emotional story that includes some scenes with alcohol and also truancy, but the issues of family and friendship will pull readers into the story.
When Apple's mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels almost whole again. In order to heal completely, her mother will have to answer one burning question: Why did she abandon her?
But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets her younger sister, Rain-someone more lost than she is- that she begins to see things for how they really are, allowing Apple to discover something that might help her to feel truly whole again.
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury, 2014.
Apple is starting to feel a need for more independence and feeling constrained by her grandmother’s rules when her mother returns and offers another way of life. Except it doesn’t turn out to be as easy as Apple hopes, especially when she discovers she has a younger half-sister. I got quite caught up in the story and wanted a happy ending for Apple. It was hard to go through some of the experiences with her, such as being disappointed by her crush, and realizing what her mother was really like. I loved the way she turned to writing poetry to express her feelings.
As a writer, I admired the author’s poetic writing style. There are no unnecessary words but I can picture the story so clearly in my mind. This is a novel where the white space is as important as the text.
“I don’t know if what I remember is what happened or just how I imagine it happened now I’m old enough to tell stories.”
“Derry cowers in his basket. He can tell something horrible is happening. I want to snuggle with him, so we’ll both feel better.”
“I like the big dashes the poet uses and the random capital letters; it makes me think that if someone famous can beat up punctuation and get away with it, there’s hope for me.”
“It’s isn’t easy, but telling something as it is, telling the truth, always seems more beautiful and poetic than anything else.”
Sarah Crossan used to be an English teacher, but she now writes full time. She lives near London, England.