Plot: It is the 1960s and twelve year old Hattie Owen lives in a small town. Summer is here and Hattie is hoping it is as uneventful as it always is and she can just help her mother run their boarding house with its eccentric tenants. Unfortunately, Hattie has a 21 year old Uncle Adam that she never knew existed and he is coming to stay with his parents, Hattie’s grandparents, because his school, a mental institution, is closing down. Uncle Adam has some issues and it is apparent that he is emotionally immature. However, Hattie is a very empathic person and the two eventually become good friends. But the magnitude of Uncle Adam’s mental illness has yet to be reveal and Hattie will soon find out.
Review: This is an incredibly heartfelt novel that make the reader stop and think about how they look at other people. Hattie is a strong character who genuinely cares for other people. She goes out of her way to make friends with Uncle Adam even though he may be more of a burden than most and she tries to show him a good time. Uncle Adam’s character is written well and you can tell Martin put a lot of thought into him. Adam has such passion for life, but is easily swayed into the wrong direction. Hattie’s character represents the importance of showing respect towards all people, no matter their differences. And Adam’s character represents the importance of living life to the fullest and filled with passion.
Genre: Friendship/Realistic Fiction
Reading Level/Interest Level: 7.3/5-8 graders
Similar Materials: Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes, The Rules of Survival, by Nancy Werlin
Reader’s Advisory: This is a touching story that I think all children should read. It send a great message about respect for others as well as living your life with passion. It was a Notable Best Book of 2003 as well as a Newbery Honor of 2003. Truly a heart-wrenching story that will leave a lasting effect.