Laura's Reviews > See You at Harry's

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
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's review
Jun 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, middle-grade, ya-lit, audiobook
Read in June, 2012

I can see that this is a really popular title on Goodreads. I listened to this as an audiobook and didn't particularly like the first two discs. Then the story ended up really growing on me and I totally enjoyed the ending and resolution.

Another note: I read two Jo Knowles books, this one and Pearl, this past week and found her themes and plot devices a bit repetitive. An important character reveals that he or she is gay, another important character dies and the main character grieves, the main character develops feelings for a childhood friend of the opposite sex. All topics and issues I love to see addressed in YA but reading two books like this in one week ended up feeling hit over the head with big emotional issues.

In See You at Harry's, Fern, a new sixth grader, observes the struggles of her family. Her dad is trying to build a successful family restaurant, her sister is taking a gap year before beginning college, her brother is bullied and ready to come out of the closet, her mother is desperately seeking her inner peace, and Fern feels ignored. And then Charlie, the 3-year-old brother, has an accident in the parking lot. The family is shaken and relieved to find that he's okay. Until the next morning, when Charlie is found in his bed, dead from an invisible and unknown brain injury.

Fern's family struggles through the death, funeral, and trying to pull themselves together. The guilt, sadness, and struggle to figure out how to be happy again are all realistic and well-portrayed. In fact, I think Knowles does a better job describing the loss after death than she does with the struggles at school presented earlier in the book.

This is a pretty mature middle grade title. While Fern is a 6th grader, this is a title that I believe works better for 7th grade and up.
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