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.


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.



by Laura Geringer Bass

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Middle school social status and friendships are spot on in all of their uncomfortable and often hateful glory.
  5. 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.


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This book sounds beautiful! I remember reading about it on Joanne Fritz’s blog and wanting to try it; now I really want to try it! It sounds very realistic without being so sad as to be unreadable. Thanks so much for the review!
    P.S. Thank you SO MUCH for spotlighting my post and my blog’s anniversary on the MMGM page! I was so excited to see it at the top this morning!

  2. The writing sounds very lyrical with authentic characters. And important read for teens dealing with the grief of family or friends. Loved your favorite line.

  3. This one is on my list. It sounds like a really wonderful read. I like your favorite line. Thanks for the post.

  4. Denise Vega says:

    I don’t think my boys woul read this one, by I’ll get it for myself. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Sounds like a beautiful book of friendship, loss, and family. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Sue Kooky says:

    I can’t imagine ever losing a parent, especially when you are still in middle school. It sounds so touching and I’m so glad the secondary characters have such a strong presence in the story! Thank you for sharing 😊

  7. Pingback: The 2018 GOLDEN CUP AWARDS | Always in the Middle…

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