Genre: Young Adult, Realistic
Published: March 8, 2016, Candlewick Press
My copy: Hardcover (from my local library)
My rating: 4.75/5 stars
Summary: While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world. [Goodreads]
Once upon a time, there was a tree.
Most of the realistic fiction books I’ve been reading lately always involve romance, and this book was such a refreshing, family-centered story. Carol’s story of her summer with her grandfather was so interesting with her grandfather’s dementia, the story of Sergio and Rosa, her sister’s sass, and her father’s resistance to share his past. I found myself drawn to Carol with her curiosity and bravery. She doesn’t know what to do with her grandfather, Serge, but when she hears the story of the bees and the drought, she starts to fight for the ranch instead of just wishing to go home.
This is such a great coming-of-age story, and I love Serge’s constant question to Carol (who changed her name from Carolina), “Why do you spit on your roots?” While Carol’s Spanish friends are shortening their given names and changing how they look and act for their first year of junior high, Carol learns that she doesn’t love city life as much as she thought she did. It was so nice to read about her finding out about her history, and I loved the ending, even if I almost cried. Her relationship with Serge (her grandfather) is so special, even if her forgets who she is and isn’t always mentally present. The author’s writing style is really descriptive, so I was even more in love with the book as I continued on with it.
If you aren’t that into romance but love realistic fiction, this book is totally for you. Family is sometimes overlooked in stories, so it was nice to have it be the sole focus on this story.
Until next time, happy reading!