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Almost There and Almost Not

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  20 reviews
From acclaimed author Linda Urban comes the funny, bittersweet story of a girl and her ghosts—and the welcoming home they find where they least expect it.

California Poppy has been dropped off, yet again, with an unsuspecting relative. This time it’s her eccentric Great-Aunt Monica, a woman she’s never even met. Aunt Monica has no idea what to do with an eleven-year-old, so
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 6th 2021 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
Apr 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Almost There and Almost Not. Unfortunately, I felt like it glazed over all of the important conversations and topics, and I wish those has been expanded on throughout the story. California talks about not liking her name - people making fun of her for it or making sexu
Jennifer Hottinger
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was accidentally left on my desk before a snowstorm and school closed. Today, I ventured back to school to get it! I just adore California’s ability to see ghosts, use writing to cope/heal during changes to her home life after losing Mom, Dad’s absence, and moving from aunt to aunt! Her letters incorporated correct writing etiquette and bring laughter, empathy, and heart to her story!

A book that speaks to your heart about family, resilience, understanding and finding your place! Loved
Leonard Kim
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I almost fell into the trap of giving this 4* because of its modesty. There are topics and themes and devices here that are in many other recent books, books that get lauded for being "unflinching" or some such. But I actually think it must be much easier to write those kinds of books (because there are rather a lot of them) than what Linda Urban does here (and in the Max books and in general) which is kind of unique - to flinch out of sensitivity and compassion, then find your own, often lumino ...more
Jennifer Halbur
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book 10🌟🌟, I would! I read this book on a plane from Minneapolis to Denver and the time just flew! As I closed the book, tears were streaming down my face. So many need to read this book 🏡 uncertainty, family issues, friendship question and more.👀Thanks for sharing an ARC with #bookposse @HopewellLibrary This ones a winner! @lindaurbanbooks @SimonKIDS
Ms. Yingling
Feb 04, 2021 rated it liked it
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

California and her father have gotten along okay after the death of her mother, but when her father starts to struggle, he takes her to visit her Aunt Isabelle, and leaves her there, claiming there is work to be had salmon fishing in Alaska. Isabelle, in turn, takes her to Great Aunt Monica, who has recently lost her husband Milton and who has also injured her arm and needs California's "help". She doesn't know quite what to do with a young girl, so asks for her
Author Linda Urban has a knack for creating characters that slowly steal into readers' hearts and make them root for them to succeed. In this middle grade novel eleven-year-old California Poppy is looking for stability and a place to call home. It seems that her father has gone off the skids after her mother's death. There are hints that things weren't all that stable before her death, but now California's father has become less than reliable. While he's off salmon fishing in Alaska, he places C ...more
Magaly C.
Apr 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
California Poppy is 11-years-old, but not everyone “sees the 11 in [her].” After an Official Meeting, her dad decides to drop her off with her Aunt Isabelle, who he believes will be better suited to help raise her as she enters her teen years. However, Aunt Isabelle is elbows deep in meat loaf prep and sends her to Aunt Monica who may find California more helpful since breaking her arm and will need help with day-to-day things as well as working on a biography for distant relative Eleanor Fontai ...more
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Review of EARC:
California Poppy is a resourceful eleven year old whose height and maturity sometimes make it difficult for people "to see the eleven in her". As she begins to help Aunt Monica with her research, California learns a lot from the ghosts of Aunt Eleanor; she also begins writing letters (most of which she never intends to send) that help the reader learn more about the unfortunate circumstances that brought California to Aunt Monica's house in the first place. California's lively voi
Eileen Winfrey
Either I’m randomly reading a lot of books with ghost characters in them or it’s a trend in children’s lit right now. So, slightly troublesome (but not actually trouble making - a super weird character plot hole in my opinion) California has been dumped on one aunt and then another by her good for nothing father. At aunt #2’s house she makes friends with a ghost dog and a ghost author of proper manners books from the 1920s. It’s not the most exciting story in the world. Backstory of all characte ...more
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a sweet book and I really liked it. California stole my heart. Maybe it's because I have an 11 year old right now, or maybe it's just because California is who she is. She is doing the best she can despite the helpful (and not so helpful) adults in her life. She gets help along the way from an aunt who needed her as much as she was needed, some ghosts who don't know they are ghosts and a new friendship. I think my girls (11 and 13) would like to read this. ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
EARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
California is staying with her great aunt when she encounters friendly ghosts who help her solve a mystery about the past. While doing this, California is able to learn more about the people around her- helping her figure out who is important and how she fits. This story hits just the right notes for middle grade readers.
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
This is the story of a young girl who is shipped off to live with an older Aunt that she doesn't know. You don't really know why she was dropped off, and she starts to see ghosts. I thought the book was excellent and had trouble putting it down. ...more
Dara Yoder
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A magical tale, but not too much fantasy, about a girl looking to belong. Suddenly left by her father and moved from family to family, she finally finds a place - a place she's belonged, for quite a while. Sweet story, fast and engaging read! I will share this with my students! #bookposse ...more
Pam  Page
Oh, how I loved this book! California is an amazing young girl living with her aunt, researching another aunt who is a ghost, trying to find where she fits in. Readers will laugh, cry, and fall in love with California Poppy. This book left me with such warm feelings.
LS Johnson
Apr 14, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a ghost story I actually enjoyed. I think California acted her age and the adults around her were supportive. There wasn’t a deep plot but the simple storyline was pleasant and made for an easy, quick read.
A 3.5. I am rounding down because the description promised me an eccentric aunt and it did not deliver. Don't get me wrong, I loved both the aunts (alive and dead) but neither could have been described as eccentric. The story was sweet and I loved all her letters. ...more
Tom Riedstra
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A tender, intelligent and haunting story.
Samantha Kolber
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is perfect. Linda Urban has done it again. Her books make me laugh and cry and I hope young readers get as much out of California’s quirky story as I did.
Mar 01, 2021 added it
Shelves: read-in-2021
A warm, funny, poignant story with a lovable, resilient main character and two delightful ghosts. Love the letter writing and the first-person voice in this novel!
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This was from the About Me section at Linda Urban's website.

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in a suburban house that looked like all the others on my street. Sometimes I liked that sameness. It made me feel normal, when I worried I wasn’t.

Other times, though, I wanted to be different — to shine, to have people see me as special. I tried ballet dancing and singing and playing musical in

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