Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life

S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Jan. 2020. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534444270.
Gr 3-6–Josie Bloom has a problem, and it’s not just the mortgage. While her grandpa blurts out nonsense and feeds the squirrels, she finds a past-due mortgage statement. Since Grandpa is no help, she has to find a solution herself. With the help of her best friend, Elwyn “Winky” Wheaton, her teacher, a librarian, and a past-prime baseball player, she might just find the assistance she needs and maybe even the family she doesn’t know she wants. Though this novel has an appealing premise, the writing falls short on details. The story takes place in 1977 Maine, but there is little description to solidify the setting. There is a small reference to Star Wars but because of Josie’s situation, it seems unlikely she would have seen it in the theater. There is a mention of the 1974 World Series “bracket” and “quarterfinals,” neither of which exist in baseball. The most problematic detail may be the nickname “Winky” due to Elwyn’s Stargardt disease that causes macular degeneration. The explanation for Josie’s grandfather’s verbal tics is also troubling. He is addicted to a slot machine and yells out the symbols (i.e., “Peanuts!”) at random times.
VERDICT Some fans of realistic fiction might enjoy this title, but those seeking a charming, historical coming-of-age story may be disappointed. For larger collections.

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