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Here in the Real World

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,596 ratings  ·  555 reviews
Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called “normal” kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
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Sharla Desy Middle grade. For readers who have moved beyond Clementine; on par with Pax.
Naaji seventy-eight chapters.. around 300 pages.

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  2,596 ratings  ·  555 reviews

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Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This is such a good book. This is the kind of book you want every middle school student to read. It's a story about what it feels like to feel unaccepted for who you are and what it's like to feel lonely,...but it's also about understanding that sometimes we may find we want to be alone and what makes us happy isn't always what others may call "normal" and that's okay. It's about an unusual summer adventure and helping others and making friends in unlikely places. Let's put it this way, there's ...more
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartwarming and quirky without being maudlin or precious, this is a charming story about family, friends, the Chivalric Code, and papayas. Some days I'd like to sit at a bar and have a ginger ale with a slice of orange and have someone listen to my "story." ...more
Jenn of The Bookish Society
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feb-2020
This author also wrote the book- Pax, which is now one of our family favorites, so I looked forward to reading this new novel.
Ware is a boy that tries to please his parents by agreeing to what they call "Meaningful Social Interaction" and being normal at a day camp for the Summer. It hadn't started that way, and he has looked forward to spending his Summer in his world of imagination while staying with his Grandma. When she fell/needed surgery/rehab, they went to plan B, with all those "normal"
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

While there are definitely some poignant moments throughout the story, I don't see this book having a lot of appeal for its target audience. I liked the overall theme of accepting that it's okay to not be like everyone else, but it was presented in a way that seemed to miss the mark somehow. It's a quick read, and certainly not intolerable by any means, but I did not find it overly memorable.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My heart just got bigger. Because it has to make room for Ware. He’s going to set up camp next to Salamanca Tree Hiddle and Calpurnia Tate and Jane Eyre, and he is never leaving. This story is honestly good, but I will likely forget a good chunk of its details over time. I will not lose Ware. He is me 30 years ago and I needed this book, 30 years ago.

This is a testament to the rich inner life of a quiet, deceptively disengaged child. It’s a call to arms for fairness and justice and giving every
Bonnie Grover
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: student
“Thou shalt be always the champion of the Right and the Good, against Injustice.” But what if in the real world, bad things happen? Ware is a misfit introvert who enjoys being alone. But when his parents sign him up for summer rec and try to normalize him, he meets Joleen. Together they begin transforming an abandoned church and lot into a magical medieval world. Somehow this refuge will become the center of their rebirth. What a great summer adventure! I would have loved to have lived out this ...more
3.5/5 stars.

A sweet, summery story. I loved the themes of identity, courage, and doing what's right. I loved how the main character, Wade, was trying to understand who he was and learned not to fit into others' expectations for how he should be.

There weren't that many characters present in the story, and I felt like a lot of the story seemed to drag—we only see how everything came together closer to the end—but I read this book over the span of multiple days, so that could have something to do w
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-bookshelves
What a lovely book! If you are searching for a great class read aloud, for a heart warming story with great messages which don't clout you over the head, this is that book.

The story of Wade, whose parents are not attentive enough and his quest to save a piece of land with a demolished church on it, is great. Wade is a young man who is kind, he is a thinker and at times his real world bleeds into his fantasy life. His passion for knights and life in medieval times fires his imagination, when he
I struggled to stay engaged at the beginning of this book, but by the end I appreciated all it had to offer. Ware is a kid who demands the world be fair and is ready to go to battle as a knight errant against the unfair. His new summer acquaintance Jolene keeps reminding him that, "Here in the real world nothing is ever fair." In the end the book acknowledges that in a world that is supremely unfair all anyone can do is make some part of it better." A lovely message to hand a child in this world ...more
A book about the balance between idealism and realism, activism that’s never too small and the power within introverts and creatives. A reminder that whoever we are, however we experience the world, we are always normal, always extraordinary. A genuinely uplifting, not-at-all-contrived book with important lessons for children and adults- don’t make assumptions, concentrate on what you can change and never stop dreaming or fighting injustice. Your efforts will always matter.
Melanie Dulaney
Pennypacker’s newest work is not the heart-wrenching awesome-ness of Pax, but I truly enjoyed this tale of 11 year old Wade as he tries to either become what he thinks his parents want or find a way to make them proud of what he is. Ware does not like sports, he does not seek out friends and he has no desire to hang with the popular crowd. He does like to disappear into his room or the swimming pool at his grandmother’s retirement center and he does see wrongs that need to be righted. Enter Jole ...more
Jordan Henrichs
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Sara Pennypacker is a great writer. Clementine is a modern classic, in my opinion, and Pax is still one of my personal all-time favorites. Parts of this book, Here in the Real World, are beautifully written. There are quite a few strong but quiet moments. It takes a long time for the plot of the story to take shape though and by the time it did, I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I would have liked to have been. Ware is a thinker, an artist, an introvert, someone I could relate to as a ki ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are books in your life that sneak up on you like some sort of stealth creature, totally taking you by surprise.

I was honestly ready to put this book to one side... it felt slow-moving and I couldn't really see where it was headed. But I am so pleased that I persevered as this really is a gem of a story.

There will be brave teachers out there who could take this on as a readaloud and totally make it work.

It tells the story of Ware, who's parents are pretty absent as they work super hard to
Alexandra WhimsyPages
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sara Pennypacker writes the most heartbreaking middle-grade novels. I usually prefer my middle grade to be fun and adventurous, but I’ll always make an exception to read one of her books. They are wholesome, they transpire kindness and acceptance and they are a must-read for every middle grader out there.

In «Here in the Real World» we follow Ware, who due to family circumstances has to spend his summer at the Rec camp, while his parents work extra shifts to afford the purchase of their own house
Barb Middleton
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment, refugee
Beautiful writing but I found it hard to get into at first. I wasn’t sure if the character had a disability or not.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: easy-listening
This was good, but had some major flaws. First, one of my favorite things about the Clementine series is how wonderful her parents are. They aren’t syrupy sweet like on a Disney Jr show. They are just two grownups who love their kids and each other and are doing the best they can. Then, there are the parents in this book. Who are awful. Horrible. I can’t believe they sprung forth from the same author who treated Clementine’s parents with such humor and sensitivity.

Once I get past the parents, I
Mary Lee
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the book my heart needed. It's about embracing who you are, even if you are not what others want you to be or think you should be. It's for anyone who lives in their own head, who drifts, who is an artist (whether they know it yet or not). It's for everyone who has a rich imagination.

Yes, there are plenty of people who want us to get out of Magic Fairness Land and live in "the real world," but if we don't believe in the one, then the other is never going to get any better.
Richie Partington
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: HERE IN THE REAL WORLD by Sara Pennypacker, HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, February 2020, 320 p., ISBN: 978-0-06-269895-7

What Ware accidentally heard his mother ask his father:
“Why can’t we have a normal kid?”

“The Power of Solitude
There’s a lot of power in allowing both children and adults to spend time by themselves. Experiencing solitude helps individuals learn certain tasks, think creatively, and deal with their emotions. The right amount of time spent alone can even improve e
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderfully enchanting middle grade book this was! I loved the writing style. I loved the perspective. And I loved the message. I’m looking forward to rereading it with my kids. Really my only criticism is that the main characters seemed pretty intellectually mature for the 11 year old they were said to be. I would normally have been really bothered by that (it’s one of my least favorite things about YA novels, actually), but for whatever reason I was able to gloss over it here. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I w ...more
Nora Winterton
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“I don’t want things to be magically what they’re not. I want them to be what the could be. And somebody has to want that, or nothing bad will ever get better.”

This book was so awesome! The characters were really fun and I got so many chills at the end. The main character films and edits a video so maybe I’m biased but you should read it :)
Jun 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Thought I would like it more than I did. Some people really seem to like it. I just didn't relate to any of the characters, and didn't particularly care about the plot. I suppose that it's probably a really good book in some ways, just really not for me.

Ps. Did love the Clementine books when I was younger though:)
Maria Copeland
Jun 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Okay, this was good.
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this empowering story about friendship, identifying your strengths, accepting yourself, and working hard to achieve a worthy goal. The characters are likable, the plot is unique, and the story is compelling. I didn't absolutely love the book, but I definitely liked it. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars if I could. Since I can't, I'll round up. ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really wasn’t sure how I felt about this book until I was a few chapters in and then, well I loved this book! Ware had just witnessed his grandmother being whisked off to the hospital and now his summer plans were ruined. He didn’t want his parent’s Plan B for his summer, that is, until he found a tree. Climbing that tree was the beginning of Ware’s own Plan B.

Ware’s parents had a goal for the summer and they immediately found an alternative plan for Ware when his grandmother could no longer
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perfection. Reviewed in the NYT Book review, 3/1/20 ...more
Carol Royce Owen
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a special book. Sara Pennypacker is an author I've followed and loved for years, with the wonderful Clementine series, Summer of the Gypsy Moths and then the enchanting, Pax. Now she brings us Here in the Real World, both mesmerizing and hopeful. Ware is an 11 1/2 year old boy who has been overprotected by his parents. He lives in his own world, aloof from others, and content with spending time alone. But his parents view him differently, as he discovers overhearing their discussion be ...more
I have always enjoyed those bildungsroman texts in which our protagonist goes through a transition or awakening, of spiritual or emotional, of sorts and Pennypacker, first in her startling debut, Pax, and now in Here in the Real World, has a penchant for exploring these journeys with a tenderness and wisdom akin to DiCamillo and Paterson.

Her latest story follows Ware, a socially and emotionally distant (on the outside) eleven and a half year old who lives with a loveable and meaningful yet cons
Josephine Sorrell
I read 20% of the book and I didn’t want to read something that did not interest me. I do like this author’s work, but this one was not for me.

Ware can’t wait to spend summer doing his own thing, dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being by himself. His parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities “normal” kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned c
Vikki VanSickle
Do not open an Sara Pennypacker book unless you are mentally prepared to be a little bit emotionally destroyed. In her latest middle grade novel, shy, introspective Ware hides from his summer program in an abandoned lot next door, where he meets Jolene. The two of them build a world of their own with a moat, a garden, and so much more, out of the demolished church, tin cans, and some papaya plants. Jolene has a hard life, something Ware is reluctant to explore. But when he does, she accuses him ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved pax so gave this a go, just not for me...
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Mock Newbery 2022: April Read - Here in the Real World 26 212 Jun 23, 2020 07:40PM  
NZ Intermediate S...: Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker 2 12 Mar 16, 2020 09:08PM  

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“It was an insane, impossible-to-keep promise, of course.

But he didn't care. Because when he'd made it, his heart--which, he suddenly understood, had been useless up until now, just killing time pumping his blood around--his heart had lifted right out of his chest, as if it had been reborn as a bird, and was now soaring somwhere near the top of the watchtower.

And the view from there was terrific.”
“Everything was something else before and will be something else after.” 0 likes
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