The River Between Hearts

Fitzroy Bks. Feb. 2022. 162p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781646032068.
Gr 3-6–A short and sweet novel about friendship, healing, and love between all humans. Rill Kruse is an ordinary third grader who loves the outdoors, her friends, horses, and her family most of all. Everything changes when her dad drowns in a rafting accident, and Rill is having trouble accepting life without her father when she meets Perla, who is living in her treehouse. Perla is missing her family, too, and the two girls have to figure out how to heal from their individual tragedies. Sappenfield squeezes in a complicated past for both characters, and a lovely resolution in fewer pages than the typical middle grade novel by setting up the heartbreaking story immediately, and making her characters flawed yet relatable and loveable—though the short length may leave readers wanting more detail. Sappenfield tackles not only loss and tragedy, but immigration issues and friendship along the way.
VERDICT This sweet story will spark joy for young readers, especially those turned off by longer works. Tweens will be rooting for Rill and Perla, hoping they can find peace and happiness.

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