My original plan for June and July was to stay clear of sad themed books, but great writing in this new one pulled me in for the long haul. The story is told through the eyes of sixth grader, Thyme. She’s not happy for several reasons. First and foremost her little brother is sick. Second, the family has moved to New York City for a drug trial to hopefully make him better. That leaves her grandma, best friend, and everything she loves back in San Diego.
The challenges and disruption of childhood cancer for a family is brought forth in a unique way. The bond between sister and brother, friendships both old and new, and a jar full of paper slips.
The back and forth turmoil and decision making by Thyme was spot on for a girl this age. The story is a happy-sad explosion of feelings and one where you are eventually glad you spent the “thyme.”
There’s a tinge of hope, and I’d enjoy a sequel.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 PAGE COUNT: 300
FULL PLOT (From Melanie Conklin’s Web Site) When eleven-year-old Thyme Owen’s little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.
After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours and the days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: COUNTING THYME by Melanie Conklin
- New York City comes to life and living there is a unique experience of high rise apartments, subways, and taxi rides. You’ll know this great city much more after reading the story.
- The touching relationship between Thyme and her little brother, Val. They need each other to make it through this terrible time in their lives.
- Moving is tough and the emotions it brings out are expertly portrayed here. Old and new friends bring confusion and Thyme chooses to solve this conflict on her own.
- The supporting cast of adult and younger characters. The grumpy neighbor with a past he hides, the supportive housekeeper who becomes a friend to Thyme, and Jake the boy that seems to understand. The subplot as they both work sound effects for a school play fits in nicely.
- The parents desperate efforts to help Val get well often leads to their two older girls feeling left out. It’s a a family struggling with change and there’s no parent manual that describes the steps. In the end I’d be honored to know this family.
I had to admit I liked Mrs. Harris, my fourth-period math teacher. She wore the strangest clothes–vest with embroidered cats, and bright plaid pants. Dad would have called her outfits unique. Cori would have called them hideous. But Mrs. Harris called people up to the board like a game-show host, and that made me smile in spite of myself.
AUTHOR QUOTE (From Melanie’s web site): I really hope that my words mean something to you. I love books so much that sometimes I can’t stop thinking about them for days. I’d like to make that happen for someone. That’s my dream.
Make a comment below if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.