"And tonight's starting author, making her first start is...JENN BISHOP!"
Yes, another debut author has done it again for me and this time I really need to figure out a way to convince my high school freshman daughter to read it with me in a mother-daughter book group. Maybe if I bribe her with oreos, she'll consider.
But seriously, if you have a daughter (or son) in the midst of the middle grade years, this book is for you two to read together. Not only should you have oreos on hand, but also a box of tissues (and maybe a hot dog). Get ready.
Told between this summer and last summer, we meet baseball loving 5th/6th grader Quinnen whose older and revered, sister, Haley, died last summer. We never find out how until the end and that suspense keeps you turning page after page without stopping for a breath. What happened? How? When?
Last summer Quinn played baseball. This summer she gets her baseball fix not by playing but by attending Bandits games (the local minor league team). Also, her parents think that it might help the family to invite one of the players to live with them and as much as Brandon drives Quinn crazy at first, she definitely misses him once he's gone.
Helping Quinn navigating this summer without Haley and without baseball, is Quinn's friend, Casey, pitcher, Hector and of course, her Mom and Dad. Through the summer they are all there for one another. Casey gets a ball signed for him by one of his favorite players. Quinn yells "mofongo" to Hector to help him get in the game and Quinn and her parents finally learn how to accept their new family of three. "It's three now. Just three. But three's a lot better than one."
I read this book in about two sittings and at the end I was just really glad I had a box of tissues by my side. I felt sad but hopeful. Things are going to be ok for Quinn. It just took a summer to get the dust off her mitt, fill up with ballpark food and find the courage to move on.
Last summer, Haley gave Quinn her personal list of "Top Five Books of Fifth Grade." This summer, I wouldn't be surprised if some of my students put The Distance to Home on theirs.