FICTION

The Stepmom Shake-Up

Random. Jun. 2020. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984892546.
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Gr 3-6–Eleven-year-old Grace and her pastor and father Davy are a team, standing together since the painful loss of her mother three years ago. They call themselves Team Gravy (GRAce + daVY), just one example of how corny humor and loving relationships infuse this title. Grace believes the family is perfect and that her father does not need to start dating at the behest of two older church women—especially after observing best friend Bea’s rough transition during her family’s adoption of a baby. Grace decides to foil her father’s dates, convinced that no one can appreciate his geeky humor, bad puns, and passion for history like she does. Through Parent Trap–like escapades with Bea, she comes to realize that her beloved history teacher Olivia is the perfect match for the entire family, but the problem is how to get the two adults to realize their true feelings for one another. This book focuses on a unique setting and characters while gently weaving together themes of love, loss, and healing. However, an overemphasis on venerating the U.S. presidents, without acknowledgment of the racism and bias of so many of these men, is problematic.
VERDICT The benefits of purchasing a title for a specific readership must be weighed against its whitewashed presentation of U.S. history that omits other realities, such as slave-ownership or the trauma for many at the construction of the Panama Canal.

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