Sunday, June 8, 2014
Review: The Secret Hum of a Daisy
Author: Tracy Holczer
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Available: May 2014
Summary: Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.
After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.
Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart. -- Cover image and summary via IndieBound
Review: Lyrical is precisely the word to use for this book. There are so many sentences that are poetry within the prose. Aside from the richness of Holczer's words, we also are treated to samplings of Robert Frost. Grace grew up listening to or reading Frost on a daily basis. She is also a writer herself. Her mother encouraged her writing and Grace has words buzzing and bubbling up inside her trying to escape onto paper every day. Grace's mother was an artist and so is Grace. She can sketch, but her medium is generally words. I enjoyed spending time with Grace and seeing the magic she had with the written word.
As you can see from the summary though, the book is about a lot more than writing. Grace has just lost her mother and is coping with grief and learning to live with a grandmother who is a virtual stranger. Grace struggles so much and slowly finds her way through the challenges she is facing.
I appreciated that the characters had many layers. I especially loved the depth of the grandmother. She is not without fault and idiosyncrasies, but she is also doing her best to be patient and caring as Grace adjusts and grieves even as she herself grieves her daughter and the years they lost.
This is a book full of emotion, love and hope. Grace has many caring adults and friends in the book to help her through this time, but she also draws on her own strengths. Readers who appreciate realistic fiction, especially tear jerkers, will likely love this one as I did.
I do have an issue with the summary above though. I am disappointed that the publishers or whoever wrote up the summary used the term gypsies when talking about their many moves. I thought that was a term with negative connotations about the Romani people and that it wouldn't be used any more around children's lit. Here is a post that explains why it's a negative. I don't think it was in the text itself though - at least I don't remember reading it there. I would have changed that about the book, but nothing else.