Seventh grader Kay Garber’s happy home is made up of four generations of women: Great Gran Eula; Grandma Margie; Kay’s mother, Karine; and Kay. But on the evening Grandma Margie tells her family she has a lump in her breast, Kay’s world is changed forever.
Struggling with issues of popularity in junior high school, trying to understand her too-perfect mother, dealing with her feelings about friends, and coming to terms with Grandma Margie’s cancer diagnosis and illness, Kay is awhirl with questions that have no easy answers. But Kay is a survivor, and as she journeys through these difficult months she comes to a new understanding of the complexities and importance of faith and family.
Told through forthright and perceptive poems in Kay’s own voice, Loose Threads reverberates with emotion and depth and will leave no reader untouched.
In this hard-hitting debut novel, seventh-grade narrator Kay chronicles her grandmother's struggle against breast cancer in free-verse poems. The poetry tackles not only the tactile lumps and "wiggly, jiggly prostheses," but also the more abstract yet realistically sketched stages of denial, anger and grief. Kay's everyday junior high tribulations and insightful observations about friends, crushes and her difficulty coping provide a welcome counterpoint: "School rolls on./ Class after class./ Teachers give assignments./ It's so fake/ when real stuff is going on." Kay also pinpoints the differences between the four generations of women in her home: "Gran Eula/ is so harsh and strict./ Mom is such/ a perfectionist./ What/ are they about?/ It's Grandma Margie who/ is sweet." Grover effectively charts Kay's evolving strength, grace and faith, as her feelings of separateness cause her to befriend the class outcast, to hug her undemonstrative relatives and to tie up the titular loose threads by learning to knit, fight and eventually even let go of Grandma Margie. Throughout Kay offers her fierce, unsentimental perspective, such as at the funeral: "Why should I trust/ two guys with shovels/ who smoked, whispered, and chuckled/ the whole time/ our pastor was praying?" Any reader who has faced cancer, death or just struggled to define his or her own truth will respond to this memorable heroine and the novel's themes of loss, survival and remembrance. Ages 9-12.