FICTION

Lemons

320p. ebook available. Crown. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524700126.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3–6—Lemonade Liberty Witt has just lost her mother and has been uprooted from her home in 1970s San Francisco to live with her estranged grandfather in Willow Creek, CA. Lem's grandfather is a Bigfoot enthusiast, though not quite as enthusiastic as Tobin Sky, the boy next door, who quickly embraces Lem as a confidant. Lem must learn to cope with her own pain while understanding others', all while helping Tobin run the local Bigfoot Detective Inc. (and leads on the cryptid have been pouring in!). Debut author Savage is a child and family therapist, and her insights into child grief are clear in the narrative. This works mostly in the book's favor, though at times the discussion veers toward the clinical. Lemon's emotions are front and center, complemented by those of her grandfather. Later on, it's discovered that Tobin is dealing with the loss of his father, who was reported MIA in Vietnam. This extra layer is a little much for the story to handle at times, but it does lead to a sweet and hopeful ending. The closing scenes are a bit puzzling, taking the novel from historical to fantastic; in an otherwise realistic title, this final plot piece seems out of place. The book is well paced, with plenty of humor to balance the heavy themes. Lem is a likable character, and while her relationship with one of her former teachers is implausibly Matilda-esque, her feelings and reactions are relatable. Though she doesn't get her mother back, she does learn how to rebuild her life in a way that is full of love and happiness.
VERDICT An enjoyable and welcome exploration of sorrow, healing, and friendship. Recommended as a general purchase for medium to large libraries, and a good option for collection-specific needs.

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