The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”
Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.
Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.
What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Dumplin’ author Julie Murphy has created another cheer-rousing young heroine in Texan Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco, who’s stuck navigating the tension between her divorcing parents—who have moved into separate homes on the same street—while weathering her early teens. When Sweet Pea’s advice columnist neighbor tasks her with bringing in the mail, Sweet Pea decides to answer a few letters herself—a decision that upends her life even more. Murphy’s realistic portrayals of young women’s real-life concerns made Dumplin’ a smash hit, and Dear Sweet Pea hits the same high notes, balancing heartwarming moments with honest authenticity and boatloads of moxie.
Seventh grader Patricia "Sweet Pea" DiMarco contends with her parents' divorce, shifting friendships, and newfound self-awareness in this praiseworthy middle grade debut from YA author Murphy (Dumplin'). Along with Cheese, her "fifteen-pound orange tabby," Sweet Pea shuttles between her family's original house in Valentine, Tex., where her mother still lives, and the nearly identical home two doors down, where her father now resides, unsettled and frustrated by her parents' split and her dad's recent coming out. Recruited by her neighbor, eccentric local advice columnist Miss Flora Mae, to manage her mail while she's out of town, Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one letter and can't stop herself from opening and responding to some of the others, throwing her friendships into disarray as she navigates the line between right and wrong. As with her books for older readers, Murphy creates a richly imagined protagonist who shines in her strength, humor, and self-confidence; Sweet Pea is also plus-size by today's standards and is accepting and unashamed of her body. With gentle humor, ageless wisdom, and charming, genuine characters who represent a diversity of experiences, Murphy's novel offers all the emotional highs and lows of pitch-perfect middle grade. Ages 8 12.