Things That Grow

HMH. Mar. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328770103.
Gr 7 Up–In the summer before her senior year of high school, Lori’s world turns upside down when she loses her favorite person: her Dorothy Parker–enthusiast, retired English teacher, garden-loving Grandma Sheryl. Lori has lived with her grandmother since her mom spends much of her time bouncing from job to job. Her grandma’s last wish? To be cremated and scattered near things that grow. Accompanied by her fun-loving writer uncle, Seth, and her best friend and object of her affection, Chris, Lori is determined to honor her grandmother by visiting all of her favorite gardens. Meanwhile, she tries to figure out a plan to stay in Massachusetts after her mom insists she move with her to Maryland for her senior year. Full of emotion and, at times, surprisingly humorous, this novel explores the devastating impact of loss and the different ways people are affected by grief. While serving up an honest depiction of loss, this novel provides the perfect balance between the serious and the lighthearted. The principal characters of Lori, Seth, and Chris are all well written, and their interactions with one another are genuine. Despite a lackluster conflict between Lori and Seth, it’s interesting to see the characters develop throughout. While imperfect, Goldstein creates a memorable story with a massive amount of heart. Lori is white and Jewish, and Chris is Black.
VERDICT A strong contender for those seeking meaningful stories about love, loss, and grief.

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