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Finding Esme

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Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on her family’s peach farm in Texas.

Fans of Wendy Maas and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will love this perfectly pitched story about friendship, family, and loss from Suzanne Crowley, the acclaimed author of The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous.

After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor, Esme has avoided returning to the spot where he lost his life. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

Esme sees the bones as a message from her grandfather; a connection beyond the grave. But when word gets out that Peach Hollow Farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme must find a way to understand who has her best interests at heart—especially as the memories of her grandfather begin to slip away.

From acclaimed author Suzanne Crowley, this engaging adventure set on a Texas peach farm is just right for fans of Rebecca Stead and Ann M. Martin.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2018

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About the author

Suzanne Crowley

3 books285 followers
Selected among Book Sense and Indie Next top picks, and Amazon and Bookbub Editor's Picks for Best Books, Suzanne writes novels that School Library Journal calls "amazing" and "poignant" and VOYA calls "heart-stirring" and "marvelous." Suzanne, the author of both middle grade and young adult fiction, is a wife, mother, a crafter of dollhouse miniatures, an avid traveler, dog hugger, nap expert, and chocolate lover extraordinaire. Suzanne's novels have received starred reviews in SLJ, KLIATT, VOYA and BCCB, and have been selected for state and national reading lists. After living all over the United States, Suzanne and her family now make their home back in her native state of Texas.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews
Profile Image for Nargis  Kalani.
405 reviews85 followers
January 5, 2020
"Sometimes you find what you don't want to find. Maybe it had nothing to do with Paps. Maybe it was something that had happened before. But a ghost?"

I would like to thank the author Suzanne Crowley from the bottom of my heart for sending me this book along with the bookish goodies. The book tour of Finding Esme was such a memorable one hosted by MLC tours on Instagram. I finished this book at the end of December and finally found the time to gather my thoughts to write the review.

This book is about family love, ghosts, dinosaurs, extra abilities and friendship. Even though I summarized the story in just these few words, they are still not enough. It's just this book preceded my expectations and the mystery was mind boggling. It felt like a different yet simple sort of experience as the author described the village life in Texas with day to day life of people living in the village. Their lives entwined somehow as most families knew each other from one or two generations before. The town always had some new gossip and Bee Mccauley was always there to find whatever or whoever was missing. It kinda ran in their family.

At first, when I started reading the book; I thought I would finish it soon enough. But somehow I slowed down because I realized I was attached to the story and the characters and I did not want it to end. The mystery was killing me and yet I savored the experience to let it last a bit more longer. So What if it's a middle grade book? This book needs to be read by everyone of us who feel somehow different than others. The mystery uncovered at the end was bittersweet as well as the ending. I was left yearning for more, you know? Yeah, it was that kind of ending.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 24 books550 followers
February 13, 2020
Finding Esme is a family saga, mystery, and coming of age story spun from pure gold by author Suzanne Crowley. The fact it's written for children doesn't detract from the fact this is a brilliantly crafted story. Rich in language and voice, this book has everything you hope to find in a Southern Gothic novel. Bold colors and a taste for peaches and adventure flavor the cover design and immediately pull the reader in. A book is always judged by its cover, and in the case of Finding Esme, the inside matched the power of the cover’s imagery in every way. 

Twelve-year-old Esme and her little brother aren’t orphans, but their parents checked out long ago. Instead, they have their grandmother Bee, a force of nature in her own right as their guardian. There’s also Finch, Esme’s best and only friend, who while poor, may be the smartest boy she knows. Bee does the best she can to run the peach farm and teach Esme the business of “finding.” But there are some things Bee can’t find, like Esme’s missing father, or a way to keep from losing their home to the bank. Esme only wishes her paps were still alive. She wishes so hard, she follows his ghost to discover the mysterious bones waiting at the top of a hill.

Finding Esme is full of characters who seemed almost ethereal, lost between the past and unwillingness to face the ugly present. Each person has a place and purpose in Esme's story, as they help her find who she is and who she could become. Personal favorites include the loveable brainy Finch, and their old neighbor Miss Lilah, who might have once loved Esme's grandfather. Here is a coming of age story of a girl caught in the crux between childhood and adulthood. Between whispered rumors from the townsfolk and her family, Esme can almost piece the puzzle together. But it isn't until she finds the courage to give voice to and ask the difficult questions that the secrets surrounding Esme unravel.

While this is written for middle-grade, there are so many nuanced layers woven in such a way as to pull the reader in and let them slip on Esme’s shoes. I could almost feel the Texas summer heat as Esme chased fireflies, tasted the honey from the hives, and smelled the fun candy flavors that always hovered around Finch. The setting feels timeless, and the many minuscule details simply another aspect of Esme's world and just as natural. It allows Finding Esme to be something more than a period piece or a gothic mystery. This is Esme's story but in a magical way, the author allows it to be our story too for a time.

**I was provided with a copy of Finding Esme by the author and this is my voluntary and honest review.**
Profile Image for Laurie.
864 reviews
October 28, 2018
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 6.4

What would you do to help save your family home? Esme wants to help her grandmother save their home from foreclosure but she is only twelve and she doesn't know what else she can do beside helping make the honey. That is, until she finds some bones up on the hill. Esme's granddaddy died up on that hill months before and Esme feels closest to him when she is up there. After a hard rain, Esme finds something that she never expected - dinosaur bones. As she begins uncovering the bones she feels a connection to those bones and does everything she can to keep it a secret. Esme also begins to realize that she has the "magical" powers that her grandmother has - the ability to find things. Esme doesn't know if this is a blessing or a curse, and she sure knows that it won't help her find her missing father. While Esme is going through all of these changes so much else is going on - they find an illegal moonshine still, a murder, and trying to decide who has her best interest at hand. While Esme's family life is a hot mess, at least she has her best friend, Finch, or at least she though he was her best friend. When Finch informs a professor at a nearby college of the dinosaur bones, Esme feels betrayed that her secret is now exposed. Will Esme be able to forgive Finch for his apparent betrayal? Will Esme's runaway father ever come back home? And most importantly, will Esme's family home be taken away by the bank? Read this incredible story of family, friendship, love and loss.
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Profile Image for Vanessa (ve_xo).
433 reviews76 followers
January 27, 2021
Super grateful to the author for gifting me a copy of this lovely book! It was such a refreshing read. It's been a long time since I read something in the middle grade spectrum.

I absolutely loved Esme! Such a curious and witty girl. It was great to see her bring out the Nancy Drew in her. Perfect for young kids that are trying to find themselves. This is definitely a great book to present in a middle grade environment where kids are just learning about full independent actions and building up character as well as self confidence.

Esme is such a fun, heartwarming character.. kids will definitely love! She sets off on an adventure after discovering treasure right in her backyard. I loved how the author connected Esme to her grandmother, that totally resonated with me ( I miss my grandma dearly and I love that I have certain traits from her). The dynamic between Esme and her buddies took me back to when I was a kid. This book had me reminiscing on the innocence of age, which we hardly see now a days.. and I found that absolutely delightful!

If you are looking for a story that gives kids a push of confidence, a taste of magic and mystery.. this is definitely one to look into. Esme showed determination and she learned the importance of friendship and family throughout her journey! I would have loved to read this during my middle grade years!

I am so happy I gave this book a chance, definitely look forward to reading more by Suzanne Crowley!
Profile Image for Thais • tata.lifepages •.
392 reviews597 followers
January 26, 2021
Finding Esme was an unexpected delightful read. The story is very character driven which I absolutely love. Esme might be a tiny 12 year old girl who just doesn't seem to grow but she is also such a headstrong and smart young person. Some of my other favorite characters were her sweet and adorable little brother Bo and her bestfriend Finch.

I love the way that the author writes, giving us bits and pieces of clues as Esme uncovers not only a huge secret on the hill of her farm, but also family secrets. The story reads in an very captivating manner from the first chapter, it is a heartwarming tale of family and self-discovery. I love how the author was able to mix a magical element to the story in a very natural way, the abilities of both Bee and Esme were intriguing and super fun (I kept imagining all the lost things I'd find if I had that gift! lol).

Esme goes through a lot, dealing with both her absent father and depressed mother, she was forced to grow much faster and see things not through the eyes of a child anymore. I felt like her sidekick detective throughout the story, as she unravels mysteries not only around her but also within her, she is much more powerful than she thinks.

"When did my little baby girl grow up?"
"While you were gone," I said. "And I was never your little baby."

Thank you to the author for gifting me a copy for review!
Profile Image for (old.enough.for.fairytales).
462 reviews149 followers
January 18, 2021
If it hadn't been for my little brother Bo and me chasing fireflies, I would've never discovered the bones up on Solace Hill.

Well goodness, what an absolutely precious, heart-warming book. Not without its moments of heartache as well, Finding Esme was such a joy to read. On a personal note, I loved that the book was set in Texas and if I still lived in Texas and taught 6th grade English, I'd absolutely add this to my classroom library...and possibly try to work it into my curriculum. Finding Esme is a sweet coming of age story about 12 year old Esme and her surprising discovery hidden under her grandfather's old tractor. Throughout the story, Esme wrestles with big questions about identity, true friendship, and what makes a family a family. Raised by her grandmother Bee, Esme also finds herself inheriting a bit of her grandmother's "finding gift"...a knack for finding lost things.

Sprinkled with a bit of fantasy, Finding Esme is the perfect addition to any middle grade library or bookshelf. I know my middle schoolers would have loved following Esme's story and whenever I find myself back in the classroom again, you will certainly find this book on my class bookshelf.

Thanks so much to the author for sending me a copy to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews.
2,366 reviews119 followers
February 21, 2020
Finding Esme is one of those books that you will want to take your time to enjoy and not rush through like a house on fire.

Esme is wise for her 12 years, and apparently, she was born this way.   She definitely has not grown into her body yet, or maybe rather her body hasn't quite caught up with her intellect yet.  She has big eyes, pale (translucent even) skin, a small mouth, and skinny legs.  She calls herself unflattering names based on these attributes.  This is heartbreaking, but realistic for most girls her age.  But what she lacks in looks, she makes up for in family and friends.

The variety of characters is a treat because I felt like they were not just shallow place holders, but thought out characters with depth and added dimension to the story.  I think my favorite character, after Esme, was Fitch, Esme's best friend.  They truly watched out for each other and are two peas in a pod.  Esme's grandmother Bee is a strong woman that really holds the family together.  Esme's mother, June Rain, is something of a disappointment because she doesn't seem to be invested in her children's life.  I don't know if she is not all there, misses her husband, or a combination of the two.

I enjoyed the timeframe of when the book is set, and while not defined specifically, I am assuming it is somewhere in the 1950s-1970s.  There is the mention of party lines (where everyone knows your business), a five and dime type store, and a few other hints that lead me to believe this is when the book is set.  I always enjoy reading a book where the characters are not reliant on technology as they have to think on their feet and find other resources than a device held in their hand.

This book does touch on life and the loss of family and friends.  It is evident that Esme misses her grandfather.  I think they had a special relationship from some of the various passages.  It is hard for Esme to go on at times, but she does with the help of Fitch, Bo, and Bee.  Esme is inquisitive and when she discovers the dinosaur, she becomes invested in learning more about what she has found.

The mystical realism comes into play as Esme starts having flashes of lost objects and where they can be found.  This delights a few people because the items that were believed to be forever lost were found. Esme takes after Bee in this regard and she can see it as a gift or as a curse, but hopefully, she considers it a gift.

This book is aimed at middle-grade readers but can be enjoyed by readers of nearly any age.  There are some topics that might be too heavy for a younger reader unless read together with a parent to discuss some of those topics.

Overall we give this 4 1/2 paws.  You will find many nuggets to savor peppered throughout the book, so take your time and enjoy the characters, imagery, and innocence of children.
Profile Image for _thatgirlwiththebook_.
90 reviews60 followers
June 18, 2020
Finding Esme is one of those stories that makes you wanna devour each and every word of. Which means, you read it at a slower pace and while doing that there a special connection developing between you and the characters of this book. That’s what happened to me, all the mystery kept nagging at my neck to read the book in one sitting but I took my time appreciating all the happenings. With every page I read, I grew more and more fond of the sweet and simple village life in Texas. Everything about this book is so unique and yet to simple that I couldn’t help the smile that crept across my face while reading the day to day errands of the people in that small village. The names of characters, their daily tasks, the way story was woven throughout, the constant mystery and drama was so charming and absolutely delightful to read.

This was a very endearing and profoundly moving read. It's not just an anecdote about family and fellowship, it's additionally about misfortune, pain, acceptance and bliss. A perfect blend of magical realism, thrill, suspense, anticipation and adventure. Finding Esme isn't just for middle grade pursuers. I think individuals of every age will acknowledge the beauty of this book.

Synopsis: Esme’s life completely changes when she discovers the Dinosaur bones at their property. The 12-year-old has a missing parent, a grandma (named bee, which was so cute), an adorable baby brother, a faithful friend and a Family Peach farm that’s on the brink of collapse and everyone in her life needs saving - from one or the other danger. Everything gets more intertwined when she starts to feel that familiar yet intimidating vibration in her legs that tell her things she’s not sure she wants to know but she can’t help it as this peculiar trait is the specialty of her family since 3 generations: The knowing, the art of finding the lost. She needs to navigate through the unknown to save everyone and everything she loves and her companions in this quest are: her faithful dog, a toad, fireflies and a ghost.
Profile Image for stefiereads.
310 reviews118 followers
February 10, 2019
Finding Esme is a story that to me is unique. I don't want to giveaway much because it's better if you go on reading this book without knowing what it is about. I don't know how the author manage to put everything together. But it works and I enjoyed it :)
In the beginning, the book introduces different characters with unique names which to me, it's a little hard to follow. It took me a while until I get used to it. Also how the story is told sometimes make me feel like I lost the momentum of the story. I found myself so excited and so curious but then it's released because of that excited part was continued by a long history or telling about a character in the past.

But other than that, I really love the warmth that Finding Esme gave me. I like the ending even though I feel it'd a bit so sudden. However, consider how the ending went, it's great. I also love the sense of family and friends of the family here!

Thank you to Suzanne for the copy :)
Profile Image for Devanshi Sanghani.
Author 1 book4 followers
March 7, 2019
Book Name: Finding Esme
Author: Suzanne Crowley
Publisher: Green willow books
Ratings: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 .
Finding Esme has truly been an adventurous read. I absolutely loved this book and I am so happy to review it. Esme is a twelve year old kid who has special gift of finding things passed down onto her by her grandmother and their generations. Esme lives with her grandmother Bee, her small brother Bo and her mother June Rain on a peach farm in Hollis, Texas.
Esme discovers dinosaur bones on solace hill right where her grandfather passed away and this leads to a big change in her life. With the finding of the dinosaur, she finds answers for alot of earlier unanswered questions. Esme was fond of her father Harlan who is a wanderer.
The whole story is revealed as to how Esme has the gift of findings and how Harlan could never stay with them and how their farm is saved in the end because of Esme's huge discovery.
This book is an all rounder. Everything about it is beautiful. The cover, the title, the story everything about it is beautiful❤
When you find it, you will know...
Profile Image for Katie Reilley.
781 reviews26 followers
January 9, 2019
Thank you to the author for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group!

Twelve year old Esme lives with her family on a peach farm in Texas and has quite a bit on her shoulders. Her mom is struggling with her own mental health. Her dad is a wanderer and hasn’t been seen in a long while. Her relationship with her grandmother (who’s raising her) is strained. Having recently lost her Paps, who she was closest with, Esme often spends time on the hill near the tractor where his heart simply stopped working.

One day after a particularly heavy rain, Esme discovers something big up on that hill, and she feels a powerful, mysterious connection to it.

With magical realism, family, friendship and loyalty at the center of this MG novel, it’s sure to be a hit with readers who enjoy Wendy Mass and Natalie Lloyd.

Profile Image for Zayda Love (Babybibliophile).
72 reviews40 followers
October 19, 2018
Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley was a heart-warming novel about family. I loved this book and recommend it for all ages.
A coming of age story, Finding Esme is also about finding purpose in life, and what your meant to do. I thought it was interesting how it was about dealing with loss and making hard choices even when there's a huge risk. Also finding happiness with so little, and how you don't always need big things to be happy.
Profile Image for Kristine Hall.
827 reviews43 followers
February 12, 2020
AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: FINDING ESME, though geared for a middle grade audience (and appropriately so), has MUCH to love for all ages because of the timeless themes and struggles that define what it is to be human. Those elements, coupled with characters who come from basically the same molds of people found everywhere, in every small town, give the book universal appeal. FINDING ESME is a lot of things including a subtle mystery but also an exploration of grief, poverty, disappointment, and identity. It’s a coming-of-age story that includes crotchety old women and nosy neighbors, good and not-so-good people with good and not-so-good intentions, and those who are abused, abandoned, and avoided. And dinosaurs! And ghosts…maybe.

“My momma used to say we look back on our lives when we’re afraid of what’s in front of us.”

FINDING ESME is a book that you want to quote line after line; it’s lyrical and beautiful from the very beginning, and as much as I adored the audio version, I am going to have to buy the print version as well because there are passages I want to revisit and absorb. You just can’t do that with audio.

Author Suzanne Crowley’s characterization is outstanding. Her sketches of folks are so descriptive that these people feel like neighbors or family or the friends of friends that we all hear about. It’s the small details that Crowley includes that flesh-out and bring people to vivid life. From the Johnson’s Baby Powder scent that wafts around one person, to the cigarettes always present like an appendage on another, to how Bee “always had something on her that wasn’t supposed to be there,” like a piece of peach on her cheek, readers not only see the people in Esme’s life, we smell them. We experience them.

“My, she’d have to stand on her toes to look a rattler in her eyes. When’s she gonna grow up?”

And there is Esme, who makes you want to reach into the story, yank her out, and hug on her until all her pain and worry and grief wash away. Esme reminds us of how grief can consume a person and of how desperately the grieving hang on to memories of loved ones lost – even when the loss isn’t due to death but due to the physical and emotional absence of them. The defense systems Esme creates to protect herself and deal with it all are both amazing and heartbreaking, but she is a resilient little thing who deflects the verbal criticisms and the pain of being ignored and shut out. She calls her mother, grandmother, and father by their first names; but her grandfather is Paps; there is a lot of untold meaning there.

An interesting aspect of FINDING ESME is that the timeframe is a little wiggly but really works perfectly. (I don’t think this is because I read with my ears, but it’s possible.) The time period within which FINDING ESME takes place seems like it is whatever you want it to be. There are references to things that you don’t find much anymore such as landlines (party lines, no less!) and people mailing real postcards. But there are a few more modern references, which remind you that sometimes time stands still and in a time warp in small towns.

There is a mostly subtle thread of magical realism running through the book, but it feels like something many readers have experienced, whether we buy into it or not. There is also a touch of the paranormal, and while some of it feels realistic, there is one integral part of the story that I felt needed more explanation to strengthen the story. But just like Esme is with most questions in her own life, readers are left to draw their own conclusions.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: I wasn’t sure initially about narrator Cassandra Morris’s voice; it is high-pitched and there is a serious Texas twang to it. My uncertainty lasted about three minutes before I realized that Morris’s performance is spot-on perfection for the voice of Esme. Childlike but with the old soul that comes through from Crowley’s writing of Esme, Morris owned it, and I never again thought about it. I listened at regular speed – the exception, not the rule for me – and the pacing was perfect. From a technical standpoint, it was glitch-free and a real pleasure to listen to the story without distractions.

FINDING ESME is among my favorite middle grade books I have read, and even several weeks after finishing it, it sticks with me. I find myself thinking about Esme and if life is better now that she’s found Louella Goodbones, found some closure, and more than anything else, found herself. I highly recommend FINDING ESME for ages 10 and up (some of it could be a little too creepy and confusing for younger audiences).

Thank you to the Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me audio CDs in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. This full review and other special features on Hall Ways Blog.
Profile Image for Tati Alvarez.
Author 3 books111 followers
January 13, 2021
Thank you so much to the author for sending me her book and collaborating with me!

Finding Esme is a middle grade book about a girl named Esme who stumbled upon dinosaur bones close to where her grandfather died a few months ago. Believing this to be a sign from her grandfather, Esme takes great interest in the bones as a way to cope with loss and abandonment. Not only did she lose her grandfather, but her father has been out of her life for three years. Her mother is there but absent in every meaningful way.

Esme is a 12 year old girl, but she has had to grow up fast. Luckily, she has Bee, her grandmother, who has a similar gift to her. Both Esme and Bee are able to find missing things and occasionally see ghost. They have quite a unique relationship.

This book was a fast read that made me laugh and broke my heart in so many ways. Esme is such a well written and strong protagonist that I could not help but think of how I would teach this book if I were to read it with my 8th graders. It is a perfect story for this age group and doesn't necessarily have a happy ending, but has one that brings the reader peace.

The pacing is quick and the book is very character driven. I Loved watching the relationships and friendships form in this book. I highly recommend this book to any lovers of middle grade!
Profile Image for Melati Lum.
Author 5 books45 followers
November 24, 2018
Finding Esme is a sweet coming of age story that left me with an enveloping sense of nostalgia. The author delicately weaves a tale of loss and sadness, of growing up and letting go through the eyes of a girl on the brink of leaving childhood behind. This was a heart-warming and beautiful story set in small town USA that left me with a lingering sense of hope.
Profile Image for Belle Whittington.
Author 5 books207 followers
February 21, 2020
Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley

Read My Review & Enter to Win on My Blog!: https://booksandbroomsticks.blogspot....

Well, my goodness, y’all! Here I am, again, with a review that’s sure to knock your socks off!
“How do you know it’ll knock my socks off?” you ask, whilst reading the above sentence.
“Because this book knocked my socks all the way into last month, that’s how, you sassy thang!” I reply, as I continue to type this here review.
Oh, this book … y’all … this book took me all the way back to my childhood in a way that only a well written book can. It all started with the delicious (dust) cover of this hardback book. Yes, I’m here to tell y’all that a book can, indeed, be judged by its cover. The intriguingly artistic cover of FINDING ESME by Suzanne Crowley is as sweet and delicious as a sun ripened peach from Esme’s grandmother’s farm.
And guess what? Ms. Crowley sent me an AUTOGRAPHED copy of this book!
*Le Sigh*
Y’all know I shoot straight from the hip when it comes to books and reviews. I don’t know whether or not it’s the fact that I studied English Literature or the fact that I, myself, am an author (of the best sci-fi books in Texas), but I kinda get a little picky with the books I read, yo!
Just ask Kristine.
Oh, yes, you know of whom I speak … the Lone Star Literary Life Book Siren, herself. She knows just how to lure me in with a gorgeous cover and an intriguing blurb. But I digress.
What I loved most about FINDING ESME by Suzanne Crowley was the constant tension in her prose. Her writing is sprinkled with a … je ne sais quoi … if you know what I mean. The reader is continually aware that something is off, not quite right. Something is coming, and it may or may not be good.
Only time will tell (once the reader finishes the book, of course!)
FINDING ESME by Suzanne Crowley took me all the way back to the magic of childhood summers before cellphones and computers … before technology distracted kids from the wonders of summer nights, chasing fireflies, the true value of friendship and how ones actions towards peers can affect others deeply.
Long gone are the days of dealing with others face-to-face, making amends in person or by slipping secret gifts of apology where the offended party will find them. Most of today’s kids are conditioned to social media and the ease it brings of forgetting the person on the other side of the screen is a living, breathing human with feelings.
I find this enormously saddening.
Speaking of sadness. Without giving away any spoilers (‘cause y’all keep asking, and y’all know I ain’t gonna!), this book strikes a tender nerve in anyone who’s lived through those angsty pre-teen years. Not only that, but this book deals with actual real world issues such as: depression, absentee parenting (both in person and flat out abandonment), grandparents who must step back into parenting shoes, deep loss, the value of true friends, and knowing when to tune in to one’s intuition.
Oh, this book has it all! Magic. Ghosts. Mystery. Witching Sticks. Pie Made of Sun Ripened Peaches. A trusty ole horned toad (who may or may not really be a ghost). And, of course, a faithful ole dog. It’s a story as sweet as Bee’s honey. As bewitching as a witching stick. As mysterious as a ghost who leads the way to long-buried bones.
But I’ve gone too far here! Y’all’ve almost tricked me into spoilers, y’all sassy thangs!
Look …
Crowley’s writing is honey sweet … her writing voice as mesmerizing as a misty spirit in the night calling to the reader from betwixt the covers of FINDING ESME. I simply could not rest until I finished the book!
And that’s why I grant
By Suzanne Crowley
5 Peachy Sweet Magical Brooms!
Profile Image for Julie Overpeck.
117 reviews4 followers
October 2, 2018
I like Esme. She’s fierce and loyal and wants so badly to be loved. The beginning of the story introduces a lot of characters with odd names, so a reader may benefit from a “cast of characters” bookmark for reference. Some loose ends in the story were left untied, but it works. Overall a good story that took me back home to Central Texas where there are indeed dinosaur bones to be found.
198 reviews5 followers
November 1, 2018
Collabookation thanks the author for providing a copy of Finding Esme for review.

In Finding Esme, Esme's family has the gift of finding and she's just realizing she shares that gift. True to the title, though, her most important find is herself and her voice.
Crowley paints the landscape of a Texas town and it's inhabitants in such a way that this lifelong Northeastener feels nostalgia for it. If you love Lisa Lewis Tyre's Hope in the Holler or Last In a Long Line of Rebels, Finding Esme captures the mood and richness of all characters in the same way. Even the antagonists are charming!
Having just finished the book, I am still letting all the layers simmer: Esme's strained relationships with her grandma Bee (who raised her), her there-in-body mother, and her wandering/absent father. Esme' family is far from perfect, but she's stronger than anyone realizes. The friendship with unfortunate Finch- a boy growing up with an alcoholic and abusive father. Equally compelling to the human relationships is the developing connection between Esme and her ability to find things, a blessing and a curse.
Finding Esme has all these elements, and many more, but explores them in a slow, deliberate, and charming fashion ~ true to its Southern roots. Highly recommended for grades 5 and up.
Profile Image for Christena.
218 reviews52 followers
February 21, 2020
Audio Bookreview

Can a book make you smell peaches? I know I literally did not have peaches in my car as I was listening to this audiobook, but peaches give me a warm, at-home feeling and this audiobook made me smell peaches. That is the brilliance of Finding Esme.

I was not quite sure what to expect of Finding Esme, by author Suzanne Crowley. What transpired in the span of two trips to my work site was the world of Esme McCauley and all her meaningful discoveries, especially the one on Solace Hill.

Narrator, Cassandra Morris Texas’ drawl voice was perfect at narrating this story. Her inflection and tone carried Esme’s voice vividly. She switched between characters and passages of the story effortlessly. I can tell you this I never got bored with any section of Cassandra’s voice during my long drives. My interest never waned and kept me alert.

There are a lot of themes in this coming of age story from poverty, to the loss of a parent, to one’s own self-discovery to dinosaurs. All the themes are beautifully and masterfully conveyed in this story. It is a book about old-time Texas. Every time old candy was mentioned I fondly recalled loving pop rocks and hating bottle caps.

While this book is a perfect story for middle-age school readers, older kids and adults may find it appealing, especially for young girls wanting inspiration to empower themselves. While the story ending left me not feeling completely fulfilled for a solid conclusion, I can see Suzanne following up with a sequel to this book which would be one I’d look forward to reading.

One note – Disc 4 and Disc 5 did give me initial problems but I was able to eject them and they started up just fine.
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,376 reviews66 followers
October 21, 2018
4th-7th grade students who are looking for a realistic, sad-happy heartwarmer that isn’t terribly long will enjoy the story of Esme, her unusual family, loyal friend Finch, and her discovery of a complete dinosaur skeleton up on the hill where her grandfather died. The setting is a small, financially struggling town in north Texas likely during the 1950s or 60s. 12 year old Esme is hoping to grow into her tiny, not exactly typical physical features, and is beginning to realize that she may have inherited her grandmother’s other-worldly gift of sensing where lost people and things are hiding. Themes of loyalty, strong work ethic, and accepting people for all that they are and might someday become run through this wonderful book and I plan to purchase it for both my 4th and my 5th grade libraries as a shorter option to those who love books by Joan Bauer, Lisa Graff and Cynthia Lord. Librarians can rest easy with “Finding Esme” as it is free of any profanity or sexual innuendo and the homicide that plays a part in Esme’s story does not include any unnecessary blood, gore, or violence. Thanks for the dARC, Edelweiss!
Profile Image for hallie bertling.
500 reviews26 followers
December 2, 2019
i won this colourful book in an instagram giveaway-- and after reading the first blurb, i knew i had to wait.
& i'm glad i did.
yesterday was the perfect time for me to read it.

it's a kid's version of sarah addison allen's "garden spells," in the best way.
as in, it's family tall tales, inspired by texas ghost stories, and full of all the magical realism i love love love in a book.

if it were made into a movie, it'd probably be PG because of some issues it deals with, but it's a young readers title and just WONDERFUL. (did i mention that already?)

issues kids deal with.
life as a poor kid. life with only one friend.
fear of losing the farm. caretaking of one younger brother; mean girls; farm life; a grandma who treats you like a grown-up; a dreamy, depressed mom; pretending to give up on hope that dad is coming home; and lots more... seamlessly woven in to a tall tale of finding one's gifts and strengths.

i had to wait to read it because it was my grandpa jim who loved me most in the world, and this book opens with the death of esme's grandpa on top of the hill out back.
so there's grief. but it's the powerful, life-changing kind.
Profile Image for Laney Nielson.
Author 2 books11 followers
November 26, 2018
FINDING ESME is a beautifully written, masterfully told story of a young girl who is mourning the loss of her grandfather. When Esme discovers dinosaur bones up on Solace Hill, she begins to uncover truths about her mother and her wandering father. Like her grandmother who is raising her, Esme is highly intuitive--a finder. The story that unfolds is deeply moving. The prose is exquisite.
34 reviews3 followers
July 10, 2018
"Finding Esme" by Suzanne Crowley is a touching story about finding oneself in the crazy tangle of family. Following one's intuition is always the best heart to follow.
Profile Image for Pretty Little Bibliophile.
657 reviews107 followers
March 6, 2019
I had honestly no idea that I would come to love this book so much! Finding Esme is truly a one of a kind middle-grade novel that I enjoyed delving into, as did my brother!
Speaking about the characters, the protagonist Esme is one I found to be utterly wonderful and dynamic in her own rights. She is so matured for a mere twelve-year old and while it awed me a lot, at times, I could not help but feel sad for she has lost quite a part of her childhood. As she so ardently asserts to her grandmother, she is after all a kid who has been force to grow up too early. It also does not help that Bee admittedly treats her like an adult.
Bee on the other hand, is a hard woman. She has faced a lot in her life and her great tragedy perhaps defines a lot of this novel – I believe this backstory is crucial in the way it has also defined the lives of Esme, her brother Bo, her mother June Rain and her father Harlan. (If you want to know what great tragedy I am talking about then you should surely read this book!) It is not a tragedy in as much as a terrific incident or something of catastrophic expanse, but the implications of that melancholy secret is utterly poignant and moving.
Speaking of Bo, I absolutely loved this cuteball! Having a brother myself really made it possible for me to relate to Esme on another level – the bond that one has with siblings is simply unbreakable. Bo is fun and offers the bit of humour in this story. One cannot help but fall in love with him. His understanding of the things around him is also utterly profound and I found him, in some amount, very enigmatic.
June Rain broke my heart. It is only towards the end that we know so much as to why she is what she is and behaves as she does. Sweetmaw, who is Bee’s sister is also another lovable character. I also quite liked Finch’s character and he truly is a good friend to Esme. We also see his story as the author really wraps around the lives of the people with each other. The end product is utterly magical.
The plot was also really enjoyable and while the overall pacing was good, I think that the beginning was a bit slow. Nonetheless, it wraps up the story perfectly.
The themes of family, friends, love, were well evolved in the story. We see so many shades of human emotions that it was an utter ride in itself. Love, hatred, jealousy, competition… everything was included and the result was something very real. The supernatural element was also what I think formed a lot of the backbone in this story, but of course that is a personal interpretation. I suppose I cannot stress enough on how deep and impactful this middle-grade novel turned out to be! And as such, I feel that this is a story people of all ages will enjoy – the kids for the mystery, and the adults for the various hidden layers of meaning and implications within the story.
Profile Image for Maria Elena | _mkarys.
480 reviews179 followers
January 29, 2021
That feeling when you close a book with a smile on your face and sigh.

Finding Esme was a wonderful gem of a book. I admit, it’s not my usual read, but I enjoyed every page. The author’s writing style flows beautifully onto the page. She truly captured Esme’s essence with her actions, thoughts and narration. I found myself relating with her so much—not with the events in her life, but in the way she thinks. I saw myself at twelve.

This book was very character driven. The bonds of family and friendship were a strong theme. We learned the little details of how the characters were relevant to Esme or the people she loved as we met them, creating a web of connections throughout the small Texan community. Though I’ve only ever seen Texas in TV or the internet, I felt the atmosphere of a small town through its superstitions and the fact that everyone knows everything about everyone. Living in one myself, I felt that.

I also enjoyed the little veil of mystery peppered throughout the story and the supernatural element given by Bee’s and Esme’s peculiar gift and the sighting of ghosts. Everything was neatly wrapped together with a wonderful narration that reminded me of books I enjoyed to read as a girl, like Holes , which I probably read three times and loved every time. Though the stories couldn’t be more different, the one-liners that made me giggle and the way details were delivered thorough the story reminded me of that book I loved. Perhaps I loved Esme even more.

I could see myself rereading this book when I feel the need to read something fun and wholesome. I could see myself reading it to a child if I’ll ever have one. Finding Esme is the perfect books for adults and young ones alike.

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy!
Profile Image for Kath Quiambao Lau.
480 reviews172 followers
March 27, 2019
*Huge thanks to Ms. Suzanne for sending me a free copy. This did not affect my overall opinion of the book.

This book tells the story of Esme, a girl who shares a special gift with her grandmother. Both of them can find things and people. One day, Esme discovers dinosaur skeleton on their peach farm but decided to keep it a secret. She believes that finding the skeleton is her dead grandfather’s way of sending her a very important message.

I had to admit that it took quite some time for me to get used to and follow the names. But once I did, I enjoyed the story and appreciate the characters more.

Esme is a great kid. She’s the kind of daughter that I want to have in the future. She loves her family a lot. She is courageous, determined and loyal. She’s just unique. Esme’s family is not perfect. Her grandmother is the one who’s looking after her and her little brother. Her father hasn’t been home for three years now. Her mother is struggling with her mental health. And the loss of her grandfather has a huge impact on her since she loves him the most. At the age of twelve, she is already facing a lot of serious problems. This made me want to give her a hug and tell her everything will be okay.

I really liked how the whole story unfolds. I really don’t want to say a lot about this because it’s best to experience it by yourself.

This was a very heart-warming and deeply moving read. It’s not only a story about family and friendship, it’s also about loss, grief, acceptance and happiness. A mix of supernatural, mystery, suspense and adventure. Finding Esme is not only for younger readers. I think people of all ages will appreciate the beauty of this book.

More of my reviews at The Last Reader
October 17, 2020
When I picked this up yesterday I was at almost 25%-page 85. I finished the rest in that 1 sitting last night. I adored this book! So amazing! I read the whole book w/a country twang in my head lol it was written perfectly to where that’s exactly how I heard the characters. Esme was such an amazing kid. She had already been through so much in her young life. She was so feisty, sassy, smart, brave, & tough. Because of that, people seemed to forget that she was still just a 12 year old girl, & needed to be treated as such sometimes. This story is so imaginative, there’s mystery, a magic element that makes you feel it could be real, sorrow, family, friendship, & more. Everything is described so amazingly. I could see, smell, & taste everything perfectly it seemed. I highly recommend!💜💜

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on her family’s peach farm in Texas.

After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor, Esme has avoided returning to the spot where he lost his life. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

Esme sees the bones as a message from her grandfather; a connection beyond the grave. But when word gets out that Peach Hollow Farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme must find a way to understand who has her best interests at heart—especially as the memories of her grandfather begin to slip away.
Profile Image for Avanlea Cary.
42 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2020
So I read this book with my two younger sisters. They are currently still reading it though. Before I get into about what I liked about the story I first want to mention a few issues. I noticed a few editing mistakes like “Ran” instead of “Rain” which was part of a characters name. There were also extra spaces added in areas that shouldn’t have had extra spaces.

The first 70 pages are confusing and slow. Now that I’ve read the whole book I still don’t know who some of the characters were. The author didn’t do a good job of explaining who anyone was. She wrote it as if I told you “Gavin is going to play hockey later” Do you know who Gavin is? He’s my fiancé! So I should have said “My fiancé, Gavin is going to play hockey later”. A lot of her writing is like that. The story later on got a little confusing but not as bad.

I did really like the story though. I thought that it was a great idea but could have been executed much better than it was.
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