Jelly Bean Summer

272p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492646723.
Gr 4–7—The story of one girl's search for meaning and identity during the summer of 1968. Joyce Magnin is fed up with her older sister Elaine's bogus UFO sightings and her squealing guinea pig, Jelly Bean. Joyce's older brother, Bud, is MIA in Vietnam, so she decides to move to the roof to get away from Elaine, Jelly Bean, and the crushing sadness in her house. From her rooftop perch, Joyce spies another rooftop dweller, Brian, who lost his brother in the war and desperately needs money for a new carburetor for his brother's truck. Joyce sets in motion actions she can't undo. Magnin's semi-autobiographical novel examines grief and what it means to be a family from 11-year-old Joyce's perspective. Readers will devour these brightly shining characters and enjoy details such as Joyce's fearlessness, Elaine's artistic vision, Dad's secret project in the basement, and Mom's green thumb. A vivid historical story with heart.
VERDICT The Vietnam War creates a compelling backdrop for this engaging, poignant work. Recommended for libraries that have high demand for middle grade historical fiction.

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