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Sweeping Up the Heart

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,417 ratings  ·  334 reviews
A novel about loss, loneliness, and friendship that tells the story of the spring break that changes seventh-grader Amelia Albright's life forever.

Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father--a cranky and stubborn English professor--has decided Florida is too much adventure.

Now Amelia is stuck at home with
ebook, 192 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Greenwillow Books
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,417 ratings  ·  334 reviews

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Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Kevin Henkes and this is a quiet, slow, deeply felt little book. I'm having trouble seeing a broad appeal to kids, if I'm being honest, but the right kid at the right time could get a lot from it. ...more
Monica Edinger
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite. I tend to shy away from sad, melancholy, poignant sort of books but decided to read this because... Kevin Henkes. It is all that, but I thought it gorgeous. The title is from an Emily Dickenson poem and she is drifting above this story in a very light barely visible way. Made me go look up the poem from which the title is taken as well as others. Also had to refresh myself on her biography. Have to admit I've never gotten into Dickenson, but if anyone could change that it would be Hen ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this story
Melissa Sarno
Reading this book is a beautiful lesson on economy of language. I marveled at so many sentences, how absolutely perfect they were, conveying so much with so little.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, kids
Kevin Henkes is a Wisconsin treasure. The word I most often want to use in describing his books is “gentle” and this one fits perfectly. I didn’t understand why he set this story in 1999 as opposed to any other year and Amelia read much younger than seventh grade to me, but this would still be a wonderful recommendation for those dealing with the loss of a parent/single parenthood.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you to the publisher and edelweiss for this DRC.
This is a sweet story about love and loss and how those two things shape our interactions with the people in our lives.
I empathized with the main character, Amelia. I saw her clay creations, many of which were identical, as a reflection of how she was trying to hold on to what was comfortable in her life. Change can be difficult, especially when it has to do with family.
I did feel as though Amelia presented more like a 5th grader than a 7t
Cassie Thomas
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very fragile, sweet, soft story of Amelia and her longing to be noticed, loved, felt, understood. In a world where there is so much chaos, this story takes you to a place considered lonely and fills in holes that may need to be filled in. As a teacher, I see a lot of students in Amelia, a lot that just want to be heard.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, library
Beautiful, deceptively simple story about a spring break, during which Amelia thinks that nothing will happen because she isn't going anywhere. But over the course of the week things happen that change her life in ways she never would have expected. ...more
Laura Harrison
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how Kevin Henkes does it. Maybe it is his heart. You can see it in every thing he creates. Another masterpiece. ...more
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book just really resonated with my daughter and I right now. It’s about a girl that’s dealt a tough hand and how she is able to grow from her trials. Things happen for a reason and I’m going to try to stay positive during this time of Covid-19. Kevin Henkes is a great writer for tweens. He gets them well.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Amelia’s mother died when she was too young to remember her, so she has not missed her or grieved her death—at least not like her father, the Professor, who has an inability to express his love—and his thoughts. As in the Emily Dickinson poem, Amelia presumes he went through “Sweeping up the Heart and putting Love away.” (50) Luckily, Amelia has been raised by a neighbor who comes to the house each day and loves Amelia as if her own.

But during Spring Break, twelve-year-old Amelia’s life begins t
Samantha (WLABB)
Henkes did a lovely job capturing Amelia's loneliness and frustration with her father. I know I was very frustrated with her father, and I was quite happy, when she mustered the courage to confront him. It was a real turning point for them. The friendship between Ameila and Casey was very sweet too. He was so open about his pain due to his parents' martial problems, and it seemed to help Amelia as she processed her own emotions regarding feeling unsure about her friendship with her best friend, ...more
Franki Sibberson
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Kevin Henkes MG novels. Loved this one-especially the characters.
Beautifully written, sweet and tender, without much of a hook. Not sure of the audience.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Review is of an advanced reader copy

An old soul book about an old soul child. There is something almost hauntingly bittersweet about this novel. Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant's Rosetown, Sweeping Up the Heart focuses on a lonely little girl stuck at home over spring break. When her emotionally distant father denies her pleas for a trip to Florida, Amelia instead spends her days molding clay at a local art studio. It is there she encounters a new friend, Casper. Together the pair sets out in sea
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars

I haven’t read a Middle Grade novel in a billion years, but since I decided to undertake one, I am so delighted that it turned out to be Kevin Henkes’ Sweeping Up the Heart.

While Amelia wishes that she could be like the other kids who are off to Florida for Spring break, she finds herself stuck at home with her distant Professor father and Mrs. O’Brien, their neighbor, who has been there for Amelia since the death of her mother. However, Amelia’s life shifts within that week in ways s
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A quiet book for thoughtful kids who are willing to think about loss and loneliness. Henkes writes powerfully about these topics and gets into the emotional roller coaster that children can experience when they begin to convince themselves of a reality they wish for but is a pipe dream. Luckily for Amelia she has Mrs. O'Brien, the grandmotherly neighbor who has looked after her since her mother died when she was 2. Their exchanges are warm and comforting, even when Amelia doesn't quite recognize ...more
Plusses: The main characters, Amelia and Casey, felt quite real to me: the indecision, the hesitancy about relationships to other people. Even Mrs. Obrien and the clay shop owner felt pretty real. Negative: The one who puzzled me was the dad. Way too remote, even given the circumstances. It makes what could have been a more touching story just a bit too odd for me. The reason for his emotional absence and the ultimate resolution of the book just don't seem to quite match up. It leaves me with a ...more
I really liked this. If it’s possible for books to have sister-books, I feel like this could be a read alike or sister-book to We Are Okay, but for younger readers.

I like Henkes writing style in his novels quite a bit— very understated and beautiful— very thoughtful books about characters navigating big ideas and grounded in family.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that the author of so many beloved children’s books would write such a touching and poetic middle grade novel? I loved the relationship between Amelia and Mrs. O’Brien, and the innocence and honesty of her friendship with Casey. This will break your heart and heal it up again.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore every book by Kevin Henkes and was happy when I learned about his new chapter book, and even happier that I was able to get it from my wonderful library!
Amelia, just beginning the adolescent thoughts of "BORING", a seventh-grader dear to my heart because I taught middle-schoolers for a long time, know they're shaky about growing up, mostly wishing that life would be exciting all the time. This girl whose story spans only a week, her spring break, a week where she is sure that she's the
Mary Lou
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Kevin Henkes can pack a whole lot of everything in such a simple, lyrical fashion. From picture books like Kitten’s First Full Moon and Waiting, to Olive’s Ocean and now Sweeping Up the Heart, Henkes proves his command in the field of children’s literature. Simply love him...
Sam Bloom
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Classic Henkes. Loved it!
A lovely, spare, quiet story of a week in a girl's life -- a vacation, though not the one she had hoped for, in FL, but at home in Madison, WI. Amelia's mother died when she was too young to have memories of her, but she is cared for by Mrs. O'Brien and her father (who doesn't like to travel) at home. She loves art, and especially working with clay, and spends a lot of time at a local studio making small animals. This week, she meets Casey, nephew of the studio owner, and they form an unexpected ...more
Lorie Barber
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Greenwillow books for sharing an ARC with my #bookexpedition group. Kevin Henkes always has a way with words, and Sweeping Up the Heart is no exception. Quiet, lyrical, and almost as fragile as the ceramic sculptures the protagonist creates, Amelia’s story is one of loss, grief, loneliness, and unexpected change. I enjoyed the weaving in of Dickenson, and the exploration of her words throughout the story.
Michele Knott
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kevin Henkes is the master at subtle writing - you have no idea the story packs quite the punch until you finish reading. And then need to go right back into the story.
Dylan Teut
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Life is a sweet, sad mystery." Another masterpiece from Kevin Henkes. ...more
Leonard Kim
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe it’s this novel’s premise, but Henkes’ prose struck me here as similar to Birdsall’s, like this was the story of an alternate universe Penderwick.
Jordan Henrichs
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sad, quiet, lonely little book, with a pretty thin plot, but oh so beautiful prose.
Richie Partington
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: SWEEPING UP THE HEART by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, March 2019, 192p., ISBN: 978-0-06-285254-0

“Every happy ending needs to have a start”
-- Justin Hayward, “You Can Never Go Home” (1971)

“Then she wondered about herself--something she was doing a lot lately. She wondered about her own place in the world. What would it be? Who would she become? Would she stay in Madison, Wisconsin, all her life? Or would she travel widely and move far away?
She wondered why she, Amelia Epiphany Albri
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Kevin Henkes became an author/illustrator when he was nineteen years old, working on a card table in his bedroom.
Today he's the author of many award-winning picture books and novels.

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