Monday, June 2, 2014


I love to read Susan's thoughtful, intelligent reviews at Bloggin' 'bout Books.  An added bonus of reading Susan's reviews of my own releases is that she's read all of my published books--she's got the complete picture of the scope of my work so far, and writes reviews with an understanding of who I am as an author (rather than just writing a review of one specific novel).

I had to share her lovely review of THE JUNCTION in full:

Living with a trash hauler may not sound very glamorous, but Auggie Jones loves it.  Her Grandpa Gus finds all kinds of treasures and plenty of adventures in his line of work.  Auggie adores her grandpa and can't imagine him having a cooler job.  She doesn't care that Gus makes little money or that they live in a rundown section of town of Willow Grove, Missouri—she's happy.

When a brand new elementary school opens, Auggie and her friends are forced to attend.  Mingling with kids they don't know, many of whom make fun of them for having no money, Auggie realizes for the first time just how poor she and Gus really are.  For the first time, she feels ashamed of her shabby clothes, ramshackle neighborhood and, especially, Gus' less-than-elegant trash hauling job.  Apparently, Auggie's former best friend feels the same way because ever since they started fifth grade, Lexie has been ignoring her.

It seems as if things can't get any worse for Auggie—until they do.  The father of one of her wealthy classmates launches an aggressive town beautification project targeting homes like the one Auggie shares with Gus.  If the homeowners do not comply with improvement "suggestions," they will be slapped with an enormous fine.  Auggie knows people in her part of town can't afford to fix up their houses, let alone pay exorbitant fees to the city.  Desperate to save her neighborhood, Auggie starts her own project.  But what begins as an effort to beautify her part of towns becomes a crusade to answer some important questions:  What is beauty?  What is art?  And why should one person's opinion on the matters outweigh another's?  As Auggie finds the answers for herself, she realizes an undeniable truth—beauty exists all around her, even if she's the only one who can see it.

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, the first middle grade novel from YA author Holly Schindler, offers a quirky, upbeat story about one girl's determination to be heard.  It's a sweet tale, one that resounds with both spunk and heart.  Kids of all ages will relate to Auggie's feelings of otherness and celebrate as she discovers not just herself, but her own voice.  Triumphant and compelling, this is one of those books that will make you cheer.  And look a little bit closer for the unique beauty in all of us.

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