The new novel by Natalie Babbitt, author of Tuck Everlasting
Joe Casimir needed help with the choice he had to make. But how do you choose the person who will help you choose? Mr. Boulderwall, the millionaire, knew exactly what he wanted Joe to choose. And millionaires are experts at making choices. Well, aren't they? But Vinnie, the number-two man down at Sope Electric, didn't much approve of millionaires. He said to Joe, "Listen, kid, all of 'em act like they're the only ones with a ticket to the show!" But he didn't have any real advice to offer. Joe's Gran didn't either, as it turned out, and neither did Aunt Myra.
The good advice was there, though. Right across the street. Just waiting right across the street. There are a lot of good things just waiting. You'll see.
When 12-year-old Joe Casimir's grandmother breaks her hip, his summer starts with a bus trip to a distant relative. Joe doesn't even know Aunt Myra, but he goes in order to please his grandmother, who raised him after his parents died. Once Joe arrives in Midville, Ohio, his outlook improves. Aunt Myra confides that she always hoped he might come to live with her, and Beatrice, a friendly (and pretty) girl Joe's age, lives across the street. Most significantly, he has a chance encounter with Midville's richest citizen Anson Boulderwall, a Polish immigrant turned manufacturing millionaire. Boulderwall, 71, has no one to take over his lucrative factory, and he rashly settles on Joe as his heir apparent (based on little more than Joe's Polish surname), writing Joe's grandmother to announce his intentions to begin adoption proceedings. Joe's feelings about this offer are conflicted, but he's allowed to make his own choice. There are some lovely moments (especially Joe's relationship with Aunt Myra), but the implausible plot line, a too neat resolution, and characters that are largely well-worn types don't give readers enough to be invested in. Ages 10 14.