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Ebb and Flow

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  750 ratings  ·  178 reviews
One summer,
after a long plane ride
and a rotten bad year
I went to Grandma Jo's.
It was my mother's idea.
Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.
I think she needed a change of scenery, too.
One without me.
Because that rotten bad year?
That was my fault.

Thus begins the poignant story, told in free verse, of eleven-year-old Jett. Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a n
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Kids Can Press
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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  750 ratings  ·  178 reviews

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Schizanthus Nerd
Trigger warnings include domestic violence and child abuse.

First, an admission. I used to be a free verse snob, prejudging something I had no experience reading. That all changed the day I discovered Ellen Hopkins and realised that some of the most emotional and engaging books are written in this format, so I was excited to see what Ebb and Flow had in store for me. Beside the joy of appreciating the story and characters, it also had me ugly crying in the form of “This is so beautiful!” 😭. So,
[Shai] Bibliophage
Ebb & Flow's story is splendidly written in the free-verse form that can be easily comprehend even kids below its target audience. It is about Jett, a 12-year old boy who had a rough year and was sent away from the mainland to his grandmother for a vacation.
Problems emerged when Jett befriended Junior, a troubled classmate that acts as a bully; Jett behaved like Junior, but he still tried to think straight instead of always obeying Junior. However, he was still included in the troubles Juni
Emm C²
"On the shoreline there was a lion, tame enough to be climbed, wild enough to play with the waves [...] I will stay here until I get stranded. The water will get higher and higher and no one will be able to reach me, to save me, and I will deserve it. I will deserve to be stranded on an island all by myself."

The fortunes of life are much like the waters of the sea, full of malice as often as they are full of kindness, both on different flipsides of the same waves. This Ebb and Flow gently pl
Vikki VanSickle
I love verse novels for their musicality, emotional potency, and voice. It is no surprise to me that Heather Smith, who delivers these things in her prose, would also be a fantastic free verse writer. This is a lovely, sad, ultimately hopeful story about a boy who has made a terrible mistake and is spending the summer with his Grandmother in Newfoundland to get some perspective and hopefully forgive himself. Jett's relationship with his "cotton candy" grandmother is very tender and she is exactl ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Jett, a boy, has a bad year, in general, after he and his mother move to the mainland to get away from their bad memories of something tragic that happened involving their family. During the bad year, Jett is angry and makes successive bad decisions and gets into trouble, necessitating a summer spent with his whimsical and totally loving grandmother. Jett essentially recuperates, combing the beach with his grandmother, looking for beach glass, playing board games, visiting homeless pe ...more
Yay, another book by Heather! I knew I'd want to read it straight through so I had to save it for when I had a bit of time. It did not disappoint! ...more
In the spirit of Ellen Hopkins and free-verse, this coming-of-age story is a raw and realistic telling of one boy’s tragic family circumstance. Spending the summer with his grandmother, Jett struggles in dealing with his incarcerated father, the homeless women his grandmother watches over, the special-needs man named Alf he befriends, and the “wrong side of the tracks” boy he dares to impress. Heather Smith’s novel is a beautifully written gem, deep, dark, and yet hopeful.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fast read.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: march-2018, kindle
I have not read many free verse novels before, but have enjoyed a couple by Sarah Crossan which use the same technique. Thus, my interest in Heather Smith's Ebb and Flow was piqued. Eleven-year-old Jett is quite a complex construction, naive in some ways, but worldly wise in others, and clearly very troubled. Smith's way of telling Jett's story is refreshing and engaging, and whilst I found it a bit lacking in some ways, it should be praised for exploring important themes, such as disability, vi ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Jett finds himself at his grandmother's house for the summer after he got into some major trouble. His summer is spent unpacking what led up to the events of last year. He discusses problems with his father being in jail, his bully friend, who is also going through his own tough time.

This novel in verse will appeal to reader who may be experiencing similar issues.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. While seemly an odd choice for a mid-grade novel the free verse style make poetry accessible and relevant to young readers. The imagery is simple but poignant. The complicated subject matter is revealed in a beautiful narrative that young readers cannot only understand but with which they can relate on multiple levels. This is one of the finest mid-grade novels I have ever read.
Kara Bernard
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ebb & Flow is a children’s novel about a boy, a “big little man,” mistakes, and regret. It touches on some tough subjects, including domestic abuse and alcoholism. Despite its simplicity, this book was intense. It will make you uncomfortable, and it will piss you off, but it’s still a very important book. I’m a little surprised that it’s being marketed towards a younger audience, but honestly, I feel like kids need to be aware of this kind of thing so they can recognize it when it’s happening an ...more
Karen Thomson
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved this book. I read it at the same time as my daughter did for her Silver Birch reading club, and I found it incredibly addictive, but at the same time, I didn't want to read too fast and finish it. I wanted to savour it. It was amazing what she could do with just a few words. She hinted at things without slapping you in the face with information. Lovely book, highly recommended. ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
3.5 STARS - This is a story about an eleven-year-old boy who has weathered a tough year filled with mistakes and poor judgement and now he must learn to come to terms with the consequences. Once again Smith uses her superpower of using a simpler writing style yet still conveying big issues and empathy for her main character. Like in her previous book, The Agony of Bun O'Keefe (which I adored!), Smith deftly captures the inner talk of preteen Jett and has created a character that readers will con ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ebb & Flow was a unique find on the J Fiction "New Arrival" shelf at my local library. It follows Jett Plane, a bot who is spending the summer with his grandma on the New England Coast.

The entire story is written in free verse. It is the perfect medium for dealing with the reflections and traumas that a child deals with. Heather Smith's descriptions shine in the various "chapters" and the characters are well rendered. The story is poignant and an excellent reminder of the healing nature of forgi
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not a big fan of free verse (I think that is what this is called...) but it reads well and is a quick story. It was interesting and well told Jett's not having a good year and his mom sends him to live with his grandma where he tries to make some sense of his life and mistakes he's made. 6th grade up will likely enjoy this story. May even be timely for some kids. ...more
Mary Lee
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Verse novel that shows an eleven year-old boy, Jett, who's done something "really bad" coming to grips with what he's done, who he is, and the possibility of a fresh start. He has a quirky and accepting grandmother who gives him time, space, and a belief in his true identity. ...more
Sylvia McNicoll
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Writing this in verse made the story short and therefor more emphatic and emotional. It captures that moment when you do something incredibly cruel that reverberates negatively in your actions for a long time. Then it demonstrates the joy and victory of redemption.
Maeve Conway
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think that a theme for this book is to things can change. I think this because at the beginning of the book Jett did bad things but at the end he turned everything around to try to make things better.
Ms. Yingling
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Public library copy.
A boy goes to stay with his Grandmother on the beach to come to terms with his own and his father's bad decisions. Beautifully written in prose. Great title. ...more
April Hoy
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm surprised there is not more talk of this as a Newbery contender. Exceptional. ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a beautiful book. So much emotion, it made me shed some tears.
I love it. Simple, quiet, yet so so touching.

TW: child abuse, violence.
Spencer Miller
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-ya-mg
Delightful. Heather Smith always impresses me.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love stories written in verse and this one is no exception.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A solid introduction into free verse middle grade fiction. Thanks for the recommendation, Brystan!
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Will make a great read-aloud mentor text for grade 5!
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve been loving middle grade novels in verse lately, and this is another great addition to the list. Poetic and poignant, it’s a moving exploration of family and friendship; big feelings and forgiveness.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was extraordinary and I will definitely read it again.

I had to go back and reread because of the heavy topic of this book. I definitely started tearing up while reading.

Jett is definitely a great protagonist and even though he was influenced by his un-kind friend, he truly is a sweetheart and when he was in the wrong, he still knew that it was wrong but felt powerless to stop.

This is the first book that I have read by Heather Smith and I will definitely read more.
Andrew Peacock
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book. The combination of free verse, a clever well designed plot and thought provoking and moving ideas are far beyond what one might expect from the unassuming cover.
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Originally from Newfoundland, Heather Smith now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband and three children. Her Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing.

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then I will stay here
until I get stranded.
The water will get
higher and higher
and no one will be able to reach me,
to save me,
and I will deserve it.
I will deserve to be stranded
on an island
all by myself.”
More quotes…