The loss of a parent at any age is traumatic. But when you’ve always been Dad’s little girl, it is especially tough for 13-year-old Briana. Her dad passed away suddenly from a rare heart condition. She lost both a father and her rock of support.
Mom has gone “crazy” in Briana’s words and stays locked in her bedroom most days. Grandpa Ben tells stories, but they’re not much help. Then there is little brother Aaron, a kindergartner on the autism spectrum. It’s up to Brianna to look after him before and after school. Her middle school friendships are also changing, including best friend Peter who she has a crush on.
Told through Briana’s first person narration, it is a sad but hopeful tale of grief,with flashbacks to the times she spent with her father. The hardest part for Briana is the feeling Dad’s heart has parked itself in her stomach. She hears Dad’s voice come out of it speaking to her in short phrases.
The writing is spot on and flows in a steady stream of understanding. The topic of parent death is not new to middle grade, but this one sure hits the right chords. It’s not a story most kids who have never experienced a loss like this will purposely pick up and read, but for those who have, it serves as a huge hug of support.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2018 PAGE COUNT: 240
THE PLOT (From Barnes & Noble): There are times we all feel we need more than one heart to get through. When Briana’s father dies, she imagines she has a new heart growing inside her. It speaks to her in her Dad’s voice. Some of its commands are mysterious.
Find Her! it says. Be Your Own!
How can Briana “be her own” when her grieving mother needs her to take care of her demanding little brother all the time? When all her grandpa can do is tell stories instead of being the “rock” she needs? When her not-so-normal home life leaves no time to pursue her dream of writing for the school literary magazine? When the first blush of a new romance threatens to be nipped in the bud? Forced by the loss of her favorite parent to see all that was once familiar with new eyes, Briana draws on her own imagination, originality, and tender loving heart to discover a surprising path through the storm.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART
by Laura Geringer Bass
- Peter is the support Briana needs and although it comes in unexpected ways, his presence as a secondary character shined. The same goes for Grandpa Ben.
- Memories are what keep loved ones close. Sometimes the advice you get is to move on and forget, but this story shows it’s the memories that keep us going.
- Dealing with a young person on the autism spectrum is accurately portrayed—both the good times and bad. Aaron is the type of kid you grow to understand in the same way Briana does.
- Middle school social status and friendships are spot on in all of their uncomfortable and often hateful glory.
- The heart serves as a center point to emotion for anyone who experiences loss. What a wonderful way to show how important this concept is through story telling.
Standing there, surrounded by toys from Before Aaron, my Dad heart made a soothing sound like the rustle of leaves, like the wind in an endless stretch of sky, like the creak and sway of vines in my own hidden garden.
It’s long one but worth reading on Laura’s blog: GRIEF HAS A LONG TAIL: Dealing with Loss, Trauma, Friendship, Love, and Joy Through Storytelling.
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