When their parents announce that they are moving from their home in Michigan to Indiana, the five Baxter children react to the change in different ways.
Brooke, the oldest, is quietly confident in the decision. Eight-year-old Erin is fearful, but 6-year-old Luke is too young to fully understand. Eleven-year-old Kari is calm and focused, but 10-year-old Ashley feels as though her world is going to pieces. When new friendships cause Ashley to feel left out and an offhand remark makes her feel flighty and immature, she decides to overhaul her life. She gives up art and soccer, vowing to be more studious, like her sisters. But she soon realizes that she is better off just being who God made her to be. With this children’s novel, Kingsbury and co-author Russell go back in time to focus on the childhoods of some of her favorite characters from her popular series for adults. In the Baxter family, trouble is met with grace, kindness, and prayer. The admonition that “your very best friends are the ones around the dinner table each night” is more than wishful thinking here. Jealousy, sadness, and first crushes are all handled with wisdom and God’s word. However, readers with less-than-idyllic lives might not feel they can simply “choose to be happy,” as God advises Ashley. While God is frequently discussed, the emphasis is more on moral character and kindness. The Baxters are white and the time period unclear, although working back from the books for adults, it is probably the 1970s or ’80s.
A wise if occasionally saccharine look at common childhood drama. (Fiction. 8-12)