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Middle Grades: See You at Harry's

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message 1: by Alexa Marie (last edited Jun 24, 2018 09:40PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alexa Marie Schaefer Jo Knowles' novel See You at Harry's is a touching story about a quirky family that runs a restaurant told from the perspective of 6th-grader Fern. She feels invisible as her younger brother receives most of her family's attention, and as each of her siblings have their own set of worries. All is well, a little silly and not without some drama but well, until Charlie, the aforementioned younger brother, suddenly passes away after having fallen while on Fern's watch. The family then grapples with the unimaginable, and Fern especially struggles to get over the guilt she feels for, as she sees it, causing her brother's passing. The family, however, learns to move on from this and other misunderstandings, and be stronger together (particularly over some events that occur over the course of homecoming night).

I liked the book, yet I will say that the family tragedy that the back of the book promised came too far into the story. I do like how Fern was a relatable character, though, especially for middle school audiences, as children at this age so often feel alone and insignificant like she does. Also, who doesn't feel "frumpy" when they're in middle school and going through the awkward first stages of puberty?

The development of Holden, Fern's older, gay older brother, interests me in particular. This book was written back in 2012 (as made obvious by the existence of an answering machine in Fern's home and Holden using his cell phone for calling and nothing else), and when comparing Holden to the gay male characters of books I've read from more recent years, I can see that while non-heterosexual characters fit less of a cookie-cutter mold than they used to, members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to face many of the same struggles as they did in the past. Also, this book is from 2012, and is a middle-grades book! It was probably one of the first of its kind to portray a non-heterosexual character in a kid's book, and a non-tragic, likable character at that.

Bethany I agree that the "tragic event" that was promised in the summary came a tad bit too late. But I also agree that I found it refreshing that Holden was developed very well, and was displayed in a positive manner as a gay character.

message 3: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Glaspey I liked how the "tragic event" came later in the book. I enjoyed it because it kind of made the reader feel like everything is good and well, and then it goes really dark and it makes the story more dramatic in a way. I agree with the that it was refreshing that Holden wasn't like the moody gay guy or he was mean to other people.

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