Hope Springs

Little, Brown. Aug. 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316540575.
Gr 4 Up–Growing up in the care of her grandmother who is on a lifelong “search for substance” means 11-year-old Jubilee Johnson has a lot of relocation rules to live by, and none of them involve commitments, promises, or friends. If there is one constant in Jubilee’s life, it’s Arletta Paisley, whose TV show Queen of Neat offers “glamorganizing” tips for bringing order to life’s messes. Jubilee’s idol grew up in the little town of Hope Springs, TX, so when Nan announces it’s time to move again, Jubilee does her best to make sure Hope Springs is their next stop. The place is full of quirky, lovable characters who immediately accept Jubilee and Nan. Before long, the girl starts to wonder if Hope Springs really could be their forever home. Berry’s first-person narration gives Jubilee a distinctive voice with a hint of a Southern accent, and her characters are complex human beings who make mistakes, grow, and change. Instructions for completing various crafts that Jubilee undertakes are sprinkled throughout, inviting young readers to get creative. All characters are presumed white.
VERDICT A promising debut reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie and Deborah Wiles’s “Aurora County” trilogy.

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