I've had the ARC for The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me since January, but I've been waiting for the start of summer to read it - because it's a summer-based book, and I wanted my surroundings to reflect the book.
Nickerson has crafted a lovely story on the challenges of growing up and how learning to adapt to change, can help a person grow a little stronger, and understand the world a little better.
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2015 by Dutton Books for Young Readers (first published June 9th 2015)
Format read: ARC via publisher
Author Sara Nickerson infuses warmth and humor into this tender coming-of-age story about finding something special within yourself and a place to call your own, in even the most tumultuous of times.
Missy is a twelve-year-old girl, who is slowly starting to see the world around her shift into something she doesn't fully understand. Her older brother Patrick is starting to focus more on his appearance and pulling away from her; their father is getting remarried, and even her two best friends are starting to pursue different interests.
So when Missy and Patrick find a summer job picking blueberries on a nearby farm, Missy thinks that this is a perfect opportunity to remain close to her brother. However, secrets involving a long-time feud on the farm and the blueberries themselves, eventually begin to teach Missy the importance of learning to accept change gracefully, and how even when things do change, there are often wonderful elements that will also remain the same.
Nickerson's tale of a girl who struggles to adapt to a world shifting around her, is gentle and wholly relatable. Missy, like anyone who has struggled while approaching burgeoning adolescence, hasn't fully adapted to the idea of things becoming complicated in her expanding life; she still wants to hold onto the black-and-white simplicity of having a set family unit, and a certain group of friends.
So it's fairly unsurprising that as the summer progresses and things begin to change, Missy begins to act out. Nickerson does a great job of showing Missy's devastatation at realizing that many of the things that she once took for granted - e.g. her friends always sharing her same interests - might no longer be true, and her stalwart determination to fight back and/or hide against those changes.
But even as Missy indulges in typical rebellious behavior, Nickerson is careful to color her actions with empathy. Because of Nickerson's thoughtful characterizations, readers understand that when Missy does things like try and disrupt her father's impending wedding, it's out of childish loyalty to her mother. Similarly, we also understand her desire to one-up her brother during their work on the farm, and how at the end of the day, these are all the actions of a girl who just doesn't know how to cope.
But much like real life, it's outside events that show Missy the dangers of refusing to learn how to adapt. Nickerson's subplot involving a long-held rivalry on the blueberry farm between two brothers, does a nice job of showing the dangers of letting changes become a negative and long-term problem, and it's a rewarding moment when Missy and those around her, recognize this fact and vow to work together as they move forward.
Sara Nickerson has written a lovely, introspective look at how change begins to happen when you're on the cusp of young adulthood, and the various feelings - both good and bad - that may come along with those changes. Missy's journey is both a gentle reminder and a primer on that turbulent period in life, and a great read for readers of all ages.
Highly recommend for all ages, full stop. But especially recommend for parents who may be struggling to find books to connect with a child going through similar growing challenges - Missy is a relatable, likable heroine that help them realize that they're not alone.