Friday, January 10, 2020

Dear Sweet Pea, by Julie Murphy

Sweet Pea’s parents are getting a divorce.  Their “perfect solution" is that her Dad has bought a house on the same street (just two houses down).  The two houses are nearly identical and they fill them with matching furniture.  Her parents want her to have a “mirror” home, so that whether she’s staying with Mom or Dad, she pretty much has the same space.  But it just seems creepy to Sweet Pea and she would much rather that they all just stayed together in the first place.

Between these two houses lives Miss Flora Mae – an eccentric old lady who authors a local agony aunt column.  She hires Sweet Pea to handle her mail when she has to go away for a few weeks.  While Sweet Pea is only supposed to bundle up letters and forward them, she succumbs to the temptation to read and answer a few of them for herself.  Those actions have consequences.

A lovely middle reader from the author of NA stand-outs Dumplin’ and Puddin’.  Sweet Pea is basically a little sister to the heroines of those books – full of resourcefulness and a bit of mischief, but with a heart of gold.  It’s rare for an author to manage success in different genres, but Murphy does so with aplomb, dialing down her style for a tween audience.  And while she pulls out some well-trod topics (divorce and friends outgrowing each other), she gives them a nice original (Texan) flavor.  A fun and enjoyable read.

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