- Expected Mar 31, 2020
When a troubled children’s book author moves to their farm, two kids with troubles of their own hatch a scheme to swipe the ending of the final book in a bestselling series to get a reward from the book’s publisher in this gorgeously written novel in the tradition of Wonder and Out of My Mind.
Twelve-year-old Sara and her brother Hawk are told that they are not to bother the man—The Mister—who just moved into the silo apartment on their farm. It doesn’t matter that they know nothing about him and they think they ought to know something. It doesn’t matter that he’s always riding that unicycle around. Mama told them no way, no how are they to bother The Mister unless they want to be in a mess of trouble.
Trouble is the last thing Sara and her brother need. Sara’s got a condition, you see. Marfan syndrome. And that Marfan syndrome is causing her heart to have problems, the kind of problems that require surgery. But the family already has problems: The drought has dried up their crops and their funds, which means they can’t afford any more problems, let alone a surgery to fix those problems. Sara can feel the weight of her family’s worry, and the weight of her time running out, but what can a pair of kids do?
Well, it all starts with…bothering The Mister.
This warmhearted, meandering novel about a tight-knit Pennsylvania farm family also offers a mystery. Twelve-year-old Sara suffers from Marfan syndrome, which makes her tall and thin ("I'm a body built out of stretch"), and strains her lungs and heart so that she desperately needs surgery. Kephart (Wild Blues) keenly conveys the stark economic reality of the drought-ridden farm, intensified by a devastating fire that burns their shed and hay supply, and the intense financial pressure Sara's family faces just to survive, let alone afford additional medical expenses. Sara and her younger brother, Hawk, become increasingly interested in the older man who rents their renovated barn and about whom questions emerge when a big-city editor visits the farm. Though the mystery proves less believable than it might, the literary tone and occasional poemlike chapters convey palpable emotion alongside the strong portrayal of the siblings' relationship, the intertwined family, and the effects of Sara's disease. Ages 11 14.