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Hugging the Rock

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  266 ratings  ·  68 reviews
When her mom runs away from home, Rachel is left behind with her emotionally distant father and many questions she cannot answer. Over time, she learns the truth about her mom. But it's only when she learns the truth about her dad, the rock- immoveable and always there for her to lean on-that Rachel can move toward understanding. Every word rings true in this achingly real ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Tricycle Press (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  266 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Paul  Hankins
In the rush and crush to get that hot ARC or the newest title, sometimes we get to sit back and capture what might be considered an "older" title (2006 is really not that old. . .and as we say in the reading business--at least in my circle of friends and influence--it's new to somebody)and today I was able to capture one of these in Susan Taylor Brown's HUGGING THE ROCK.

I don't remember how or when I was able to make a connection with Susan Taylor Brown, but I admire her gentle spirit and her ad
Normally I stay far away from books in verse and from stories about mentally ill parents; as a former-wannabe poetry professor with mental illness in my family history, they spell cringeworthy disaster. The positive reviews from the kidlit world kept this on my list, though, and I'm glad I read it.

The story begins with Rachel's mom leaving, and traces (in her voice) the next year of learning to survive without her mom and building a relationship with her dad. I'm a sucker for stories featuring
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised by how much this little book made me feel. I didn't expect this story to be so touching and it far exceeded my expectations. There were moments where I felt a lump start to form in my throat and I wanted to cry... and I do not cry easily! The emotions and characters were very honest, real, and well developed. The author shows you how the characters feel without having to actually tell you. I loved this book.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
I liked it. It was quite different from what I had expected. Good reminder to me though to remember what's important and what our kids need and sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference in the relationships we have with our kids. Quick read, I read it in one sitting in the bath.
Shannon Walsh
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book, especially for readers that don't necessarily love to read. The plot starts quickly and grabs the readers attention right away, and the author doesn't waste a lot of time with descriptive detail, but goes straight to the true emotions of a girl's relationship with her father and having to deal with losing her mom.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this just came across my desk so i thought i would read it for a quick book. i really enjoyed it. some of the verse novels are just fast without a lot of substance this one was really moving and excellent. the topic is covered well and succinctly.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Novel in verse. Father/daughter relationship. One of the best novel in verse books I've read. It goes deep with very few words, has a childlike sensibility, and feels like an artistic whole.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The book was very good because it guided the reader through a young girl's struggles with her mom leaving. It was written like a poem and I was able to finish it quickly.
Tabitha Bird
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
This is a beautiful, yet sad story. I love novels in verse so if that's your jam you will love this. I am actively seeking books with characters who have bipolar. The mother in this novel suffers with the illness and though it's not her story, it was interesting to see how she was portrayed. It was sad to see that she wasn't a positive role model, but her struggles came across as real. The daughter's reaction to her mother leaving was heartbreaking. I almost cried with her. It was wonderful to s ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
His book, written is verse, is the story of a young girl whose mother leaves her and her father. The mom struggles with mental illness. This story follows the girl and her dad and how they pick up the pieces and create a new normal following her moms leaving. It’s a great story of how closeness and more love can come out of a sad situation.
Jenny Claiborne
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful way to give voice to those affected by someone else's mental illness. Rachel's mom, diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, leaves her husband and daughter behind when she runs away to begin a new life. Now they must learn to pick up the pieces and live a new normal. Part heartbreaking, part triumphant...totally worth the read.
Karyn Buchanan
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rachel’s mom is bipolar and leaves. Rachel is left behind with a dad she doesn’t know. Told in a series of poems, Rachel learns to know and love the man who is her father. A beautiful read for the week after father’s day.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
A hard topic.
A girl's mom runs away. And the girl is left with her dad, learning to love her dad and accept him as the parent who wants to be.
The mom is said to be bipolar.
Adam James
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Kids need more books that closely examine mental illness.

Hugging the Rock is a heart-wrenching blueprint for conveying all the nuances of mental illness to younger readers.

Just, wow.
Johan Orozco
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a sad type book. This book makes you sad and makes you think as well. I recommend this book if you like sad stories and suspense
Lesly Bruner
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-2013
Rachel is lost when her mother leaves. She begs her not to go, but she says she can't stay. She can't say that she's surprised, her mother has talked about this before- needing to leave. But, she is a little shocked when she actually does it. She blames her dad in anger, telling him it's his fault, but she knows better. Her mom has always had good days and bad. Sometimes her good days are too good- keeping Rachel up until all hours of the night and then getting upset with her when she is too tir ...more
Elaine volpe
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim Snell
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Poetry
Copyright: 2006

"Hugging the Rock" follows a young girl named Rachel, whose mother decides to leave all of a sudden. Faced with numerous questions and feelings, she tries to develop a relationship with her father who, as she sees him, is as hard as a rock.

I thought this book was great! Written in verse style poetry, the author really gives the reader a sense of what Rachel is going through during the entire ordeal. The author also gives you a sense of what Rachel's
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Much of this book was very beautiful, although the poems don't stand up well on their own, they have to be read in this sequence. But it had a slight "pro-life" tone to it I didn't like. The father persuaded the mother to marry him and have their daughter, when she never wanted to be a mother or a wife. He says he loved her, and he loved the unborn child - yet he made her, a mentally ill woman, give up her own dreams and take on a role she never wanted, something that would inevitably make her c ...more
Catherine Johnson
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the first non-rhyming prose novel I have read and it is so much easier and quicker to read than a rhyming one! I finished it in almost one sitting. A difficult subject to cover with a nice twist in it and wonderful characters. Poetry aside the dialogue and characters were so natural I feel like I know them. The poetry was subtle and so easy to read (have I said that enough). I cannot wait to pick up another novel in verse. Touching subject. I have a close friend who lives a long way away ...more
Brewer Community School
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finished Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown. This book is about a girl named Rachel whose mom leaves, and her dad now has to care of her on his own. Before her mom leaves she tells her that her dad is a rock like you can count on him. Rachel’s mom has bipolar disorder which makes her very rude and mean sometimes. Before her mom left she was not very close with her dad and her dad told her that her mom never wanted her cause she didn’t want a child. By the end of the story she becomes so cl ...more
Linda Katzman
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
When Rachel’s mom leaves her and her father, Rachel has to trust the man she barely knows. For Rachel, it has always been her and her mother doing things together. She has never been close to the man her mom calls a rock. Her mother has said that he is solid and does what is right. He will always be there to do the right thing for those he cares about. How could he let her mom leave them alone? Rachel doesn’t want to be the girl without a mother or the girls whose mother left to run away from th ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classroom
Right before "running away", Rachel's mom tells her, "Your dad is a rock". This novella done in a collection of simple yet powerful poems through Rachel's first year after her mother runs away from home. She and her dad have been so distant for so long, Rachel can't imagine how life will function without her mom there. She is hiding the secret from her teacher, principal, and even her best friend. Then, Doctor Dan starts unearthing secrets her father never wanted her to know.

Hugging the Rock gr
Feb 04, 2011 added it
So far I think the book Hugging The Rock is a good book. I'm eager to read this book because I want to know if her mom is going to come back and why she had left. The little girl name is Rachel. Her mom left her and her dad. The day her mom left Rachel was upset and she was mad at her dad because she thought it was hid fault her mom left. A while latter Rachel grandmother came over for a while. Rachel was doing bad in school. Not telling her best friend Sara why she couldn't come over no more. T ...more
Kim B.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 10-11-readings
This book is not for people who need sunshine and joy in their books, not that those subjects are EVER in novels-in-verse. I wouldn't even give this to people who loved Sharon Creech's "Heartbeat." This book is basically one emotional punch to the stomach after another after another for most of its length, and even after the constant punching subsides it's still pretty sad. Regardless, I wanted to hug this short little book, with its detailed, sad writing, and I would rank it just a bit below "O ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Rachel and her father have to find a way to become a family without her mother, who has left them. This novel in verse was moving and well told. I loved how the characters of Rachel and her father changed and grew during the course of the story. The novel drew me in and kept me reading right through to the end in one sitting. Upper elementary and middle school kids will like this one. Highly recommended!
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
CIP: Through a series of poems, Rachel expresses her feelings about her parents' divorce, living without her mother, and her changing attitude toward her father.

Written in a charming, poetic style, this book is easy to read even though it covers the difficult issues of abandonment and rebuilding intra-familial relationships.

SLJ says "this is a poignant character study of a dysfunctional family."
Kirkus says "a series of bland verses"
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: t-l-306
This was the first verse book that I have ever read. I really enjoyed it, especially because it was such a quick read. I enjoyed the story line of a father and daughter rekindling their relationship after the bipolar mother leaves. It’s such a sad story, and I ended up shedding a few tears. I am not sure if I would necessarily recommend this book to students to cope with bipolar disorder because it isn’t exactly a happy ending in terms of the mother.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I love this book so much and am so glad a great friend just read it and loved it too. The Mom in this book "goes away." The young girl has never had a very close relationship with her Dad. Before her Mom goes she tells her daughter - your Dad is a rock - you can hug him. The book follows the special relationship of the young girl and her getting to know and hug her Dad. This is a tough sell to young children - maybe more for the 7th or 8th grader.
Amy Reinhardt
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read so far. Hugging the Rock is a very great book that I would recommend to any teenagers who have dealt with parents who didn't understand them, parents that have been divorced, parents with mental illness, or if you have felt misunderstood. The main character is a teenage girl who deals with all these issues. She is very straight forward with her feelings and emotions and shows her coming of age throughout the book. Great book. Have read it at least three times!
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I write, mostly books for kids but often whatever I can get paid for.

It still sorta freaks me out, in a good way, to think that people will pay me to do someting I love so much. Or that I can walk into a bookstore or a library and see a book I wrote on the shelf. Wow.

Thank you readers, teachers, and librarians. Thank you.

You can read more than you would ever want to about me over at my website: [

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