Book View: See You at Harry’s

Book View: See You at Harry’sSee You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
Published by Candlewick Press on May 8th 2012
Pages: 310

Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

Short & Sweet: Fern often feels a bit invisible in her family and it is because her 3 year old brother Charlie always takes the spotlight in everything. Her brother Holden used to do everything with her, but now that they are riding the same bus, she has learned that he is being bullied for being gay and wants her to be safe from the bullies. When a tragedy hits her family, Fern blames herself and does not know how to get over losing someone so important. A well-written and theme-filled book, See You at Harry's is bound to be a future award-winner. The characters are flawed and realistic and their reactions to the tragedy differs from person to person. The story hits you hard in the heart even early on, before the actual event occurs. Keep a box of tissues near you when reading this one, you may need the whole box.

Final Verdict: I loved Fern and her uncertainty, she is definitely a middle school student, trying to grow into her own skin while still clinging to the love of her parents and family. This book is a well-written story that will really resonate with most readers.

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