Happy Monday, guys!
Can you believe that it's May already? The time absolutely flies by.
This week, we're backtracking and reviewing Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel. It's a gorgeous tale about how one girl moves somewhere unexpected, and learns to set down roots.
MMGM is a feature hosted by the fabulous Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Published March 28th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format read: ARC via publisher
Twelve-year-old Stevie's world changes drastically when her parents are tragically killed and she is forced to live with her estranged grandfather at his run-down motel. After failed attempts to connect with her grandfather, Stevie befriends the colorful motel tenants and neighbors. Together, they decide to bring some color and life to the motel by planting a flower garden, against Stevie's grandfather's wishes. It will take Stevie's departure before her grandfather realizes just how needed she is by everyone.
This new novel from National Book Award–winning author Kimberly Willis Holt explores themes of loss, family, and love, and gets at the heart of what it means to find a place to call home.
Holt introduces us to twelve-year-old Stevie, whose life has been irrevocably changed thanks to a sheer twist of fate. Her parents were killed in a car accident while she was at school, and she's now relocating from New Mexico to Texas, where she's supposed to move into her grandfather's run-down motel.
Though Stevie initially finds the adjustment to be a steep one; she's not in school and away from kids her own age, her grandfather lives a life that is miles away from the natural, healthy life that her parents led, Stevie soon decides to take her future in her own hands. She brings the most cherished elements of her life to life at the motel, while also learning how to navigate friendships, tough family relationships, and confronting her own past.
Holt writes with a sincerity and empathy that beautifully reflects Stevie's young voice, particularly around her ability to try and make the best of a bad situation. Stevie isn't one to take a situation sitting down; instead, she innately understands the power of putting down roots and making a space her own - particularly when she learns some much needed information about her own past.
Though the story does develop exactly in the way one might expect, there's something pleasantly reassuring knowing that the story does turn out that way. Holt reminds us that that there are still good, ordinary people in the world - something especially needed in our current climate - and that with some work, reassurance and growth, we can all come together.
My only slight issue with Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel, is that the synopsis is a tad misleading.
Spoilers ahead: The synopsis makes it sound like Stevie leaves as a result of a disagreement with her grandfather, when her temporary departure is actually a journey to find herself. Stevie and Winston were already learning to love each other before that juncture, and playing it up for drama somewhat undersells the overall growth and development that is seen in the book. But this is more of a copy issue than a writing issue, so just keep it in mind.
All in all, Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Hotel blooms into a thoughtful examination of family, friendship and learning how to take root, regardless of wherever you might be sent. Highly recommend, full stop.