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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | See You at Harry's | Jo Knowles
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See You at Harry's
by Jo Knowles
PUBLISHER: Candlewick
NO. PAGES: 310
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction
ALA-ALSC Childrens Notable Book
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
ISBN: 0763654078
READ & REVIEWED BY: Shannon - StorySnoop

The Story
See You at Harry's—Book Review

Twelve-year-old Fern is starting middle school and has all of the typical middle school angst. Her parents are beyond embarrassing, especially her dad, who sticks them in a mortifying and cheesy commercial for their family restaurant. Her older sister Sarah is taking a year off after high school, which puts her into a terrible mood. Her older brother Holden is not so bad, but he is battling his own issues by pretending he is not gay, even while being bullied at school. And no one is more annoying to Fern than her three year old brother, Charlie. Fern's distracted mom always seems to dump the sticky, chatty baby off on everyone else, whether they have time for him or not. To make matters worse, Fern may or may not have a crush on the one sane person in her life, her longtime best friend, Ran. But then something terrible happens to Fern's family, and Fern wonders if things will ever be okay again.
The Scoop
See You at Harry's—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

See You at Harry's is a fantastic book for older tweens with wide appeal to many different kinds of readers. It is well-written and catchy--meaning that the reader will find Fern's voice likable and funny and will want to keep reading. Fern describes her family dynamics in a way we can all relate to, including the funny and amusing parts, the embarrassing and annoying parts, and the parts that break your heart a bit. There is a side story about Holden, the fourteen-year-old brother, and his process of coming out. First we see him bullied and called names, even hit, by homophobic classmates. With the support of Fern, he comes out to his family (who already knew and are very supportive) and his classmates. He begins to date a senior and this causes tension between him and his father, but the relationship is more one of support and the two boys end up as friends. Every character, though inherently good, is flawed, and this lends itself to believability. The mother, who helps manage their restaurant while raising four children, is spread thin and is always distracted, but she is a great mom. The father is ridiculously embarrassing, but really it is out of love and devotion to his family. Charlie is three and he is supposed to be lovable, but really, his constant chatter wears on Fern's nerves, and she resents her babysitting responsibilities. Sarah can be nasty—she calls her brother Holden a "fag" which upsets him greatly, but she goes through her own metamorphosis, realizes her error, and becomes a stellar and supportive sister to her siblings. These imperfect characters, unfortunately, experience a tragedy. Ultimately, this brings them closer together as a family as they are forced to work through their feelings of grief, blame, guilt, and loss with one another. Their healing process is real, raw, and painful, but the way they come together as a family both in individual relationships (Sara and Fern) and as a whole is uplifting and heartwarming. This book is an excellent choice for tweens on the older end of the spectrum. Reluctant tween girl readers would find this book compelling as well. Language is mild: h-ll and d-mn is said once, f-g is said several times.
Post Your Own Review

by {ADULT}
on Monday, August 20th, 2012 12:21:32 PM

I agree with The Scoop 100%. Between the bullying, a death of a child and some minor language I would recommend it to my 6th+ graders. This is my first Jo Knowles book. I liked it so much I picked up all her others.
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