Sunday, March 29, 2020

My Jasper June, by Laurel Snyder

At the start of the summer, Leah feels lost.  Her town and her family have so many traditions and none of them feel right anymore.  Since her little brother died last summer at camp, Leah and her family have simply drifted.  School kept Leah busy, but with a long empty summer ahead of her, there is nothing to do and nothing to which to look forward. 

Then Leah meets Jaspar, a mysterious girl living in an abandoned house in the woods.  Jaspar is fun and exciting, and most important of all Jaspar doesn't look at her with the pity that everyone else does.  Through the friendship that develops between them, Leah finds the will to move beyond her grief and see with a clear eye how encumbered it has made her and her family.  But Jaspar's situation is dire.  Can Leah help her in return or are some problems simply too big to take care of?

A lot of loss and pain in this book but in the end a lot of hope as well.  Snyder avoids easy solutions and no one person saves the others.  Instead it becomes a team effort where adults and children come together and teach and learn from each other at the same time.  The end result is a moving story about taking risks and committing to others in order to break through unhealthy coping mechanisms. While elements of the plot are tired and familiar, the strength of this novel comes in its affirming and inspirational message, well written and effectively delivered.

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