Blog Tour: Finding Esme

FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY
  
Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

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After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.

Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:

“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to…A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” — School Library Journal

“Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” — Booklist

Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever experienced a loss? Have you ever felt the need to reconnect with someone you have lost? Finding Esme takes the reader on the journey through the mind of a young child and her family as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her grandfather. As the story continues to unfold the author allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Esme’s relationship with her grandfather. We are then able to dive into why she is struggling so hard with his loss. Esme wants so desperately to be a contributing member of her family, but she’s only twelve. There aren’t many things a twelve-year-old can do to make money. As she struggles to come to terms with how desperate family is to save their farm and her inability to help, she discovers something far more amazing. Her connection with her late grandfather runs deeper than she could have ever imagined. Esme and her grandfather share a similar gift. Some might call the gift magic!

This book is filled with numerous components that make it hard to focus on just one. There is a sense of adventure, self discovery, family, friendships, loss, mystery, and acceptance. The author does a phenomenal job of telling this story in a way that provides the reader with a chance to understanding the emotions of each character. This story transports you into the life and home of Eme and her family. Esme is far more mature for her age than other twelve-year-olds. I adore the uniqueness associated with each character and the detail provided. The development of the main and supporting characters allowed for a better baseline of the story and enhanced the plot. The realism and emotional influence in the authors writing style had me in tears as I got to know Esme, her best friend, and her mother. Esme’s life is far from perfect. She struggles with coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather, supporting her grandmother, and being there for her younger brother. However, we watch as Esme learns acceptance and embraces her gift that will lead to happiness and connection.

This coming of age story transports you into the life of Esme. A young girl whose knack for discovery leads her to the greatest treasure of all that could potentially save her family’s farm. This book is filled with grief, love, friendships, and childlike discovery. The ending of this book will have you shedding tears of joy as we watch the main character is able to use her “gift” in a unique way. This book reminded me a lot of my life growing up. I had an absent father, a mother who was gone, and I was raised by my grandmother. I remember as a young child having the similar thoughts as Esme and thanking God the same way she does in the novel.

If you are interested in a well written, relatable, thought provoking, explorative, coming of age elementary/middle-grade novel, then this book is for you! I recommend this book to all young readers looking to engage in a story that will encourage their sense of discovery and adventure. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this remarkable tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!

Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.
 

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TWO READERS EACH WIN A SIGNED COPY OF FINDING ESME, TWO CANDLES, BOOKMARKS, FUN FACT CARDS, AND A PEN!
February 11-21, 2020

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The Other Half of Happy Blog Tour

THE OTHER HALF

OF HAPPY
by

Rebecca Balcárcel

Contemporary / Middle Grade / Multi-cultural Family
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 332

Scroll down for giveaway!

Quijana is a girl in pieces. 
 
One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage. 
 
One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. 
 
One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother. 
 
In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. 
 
This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.

PRAISE FOR THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY:

 
“Seriously, I have never felt so seen in a book.” —Sophia Jimenez of @LatinxinPub
 

“Balcárcel’s well-rounded characters, complex friendships, and nuanced family dynamics will resonate with many readers. This is a title that will remain relevant long past its publication date. A must-have for all library collections.” — School Library Journal starred review

“With poetic, flowing prose that sometimes feels more like a song and characters so convincing that they seem real, Balcárcel’s stunning debut depicts the struggles of being raised with two cultures and the challenges of not being “authentic” enough—in this case, “not Guatemalan enough” or “not American enough.” A lovely, moving, and realistic view of the struggles and insecurities—as well as the beauty—that comes from being bicultural.” — Booklist starred review

“One of the best and most compassionate depictions of autism I have ever read in fiction.” — Latinas Leyendo

CLICK TO PURCHASE

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Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are unfinished copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

The engaging and awe-inspiring novel transports you into the world of Quijana, a half Guatemalan and half American tween. Quijana faces continual adversities as she works to discover her true identity.

The novel begins with Quijana preparing for her first day of seventh grade in a new school. She is obsessing over the mistakes of her past, trying to wrangle the constant chaos of her household, and spending time with her family. Her first day of seventh grade does not go as plan and she must learn the dynamics of her new school. Quijana must learn to face obstacles that are beyond her years while trying to find her identity and her place in her family. She is navigating her new environment, dissecting a potential crush, focusing on her younger brother, and continue to connect her Abuelita. As her home life takes a more challenging turn will she be able to handle it all?

The Other Half of Happy tackles the challenge of creating a diverse novel that allows the reader to understand the dynamics of the culture that influenced it. The moment I opened this book I was completely entranced in the story. I was able to feel a personal connection with the main character and the challenges she faced with her family. This novel felt more like a middle grade coming of age story that focused on a common challenge faced by biracial youth. It is evident the author drew from personal experiences to write this novel or did extensive research. The author took the time to insert Spanish dialogue and highlight a common frustration and disconnect in multicultural households. This novel is engaging, informative, and powerful. The characters evolved from chapter to chapter as the storyline developed. I even cried toward the ending after the plot started to unfold.

I truly commend the author for taking the time to shed light on common obstacles faced by multilingual and multicultural households in America. Quinjana is developed as a character that is both relatable and responsible. The author provides scenes that share commonalities with the adversities faced by youth today. The author provides a first-hand look at the development of the main character as we experience her frustrations, worry, and grief.

If you’re in the mood for a realistic fiction novel then you’re in luck! This book fits soo many key character development points and has such an elaborate storyline that it would be a great read for upper elementary and middle grades. I highly recommend this novel as it provides an opportunity for youth to read about challenges similar to their own. You won’t want to put this one down until you finish it!


 
 

Rebecca is a bi-cultural Latina who loves her autistic sons, her kitty, and serving the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars, where she was awarded the Jane Kenton Poetry Prize. THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY is her debut novel.

 
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THREE WINNERS EACH RECEIVE:
SIGNED COPY OF THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY 
BOOKMARK & STICKER!
NOVEMBER 5-15, 2019
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11/10/19
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