FICTION

Sincerely, Harriet

illus. by Sarah Winifred Searle. 176p. Lerner. Jan. 2019. Tr $29.32. ISBN 9781512440195; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781541545298.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4–8—Harriet Flores is lonely. Her camp friends won't return her postcards, her parents work all day, and she's stuck all summer inside her family's new apartment with the TV on and school books she'd rather ignore. Harriet's parents send her to help their elderly downstairs neighbor Pearl, who sets Harriet to working on a scrapbook for Pearl's grandson. Through conversations with Pearl, a new diary, and revelations about her building's mysterious third floor and by being honest with herself and with her parents, Harriet learns to wield her creative powers against loneliness and unease. Bored and fussy, she entertains unfounded suspicions that the mailman and Pearl are harboring secret criminal intentions. Unfortunately, while she is reprimanded for making up these stories, that both targets of Harriet's suspicions have dark skin goes unaddressed. Readers who stick by Harriet discover the source of much of her anxieties: a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. An author's note and suggested further reading further highlight invisible disabilities, a topic infrequently depicted in literature. Little details make the book more inclusive from a gender and sexuality standpoint: Harriet nurses fleeting crushes on other girls, and a scrapbook photo depicts her father rocking pink hair and a crop top. The wide-eyed, expressive characters and reassuring art are well suited to this introspective narrative.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for collections where contemplative graphic novels are popular.–Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

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