In this middle-grade novel, 12-year-old Sophia heads to the shore with her family only to find that things are different than they were before.
When Sophia arrives at her grandparents’ beach cottage for the first weekend of summer, as she does every year, she is excited but nervous: Would this summer be just like all the others? Memi has passed away, and this is the first time that she will have a beach retreat alone with Poppy. Her first afternoon at the cottage, Poppy gives Sophia trinkets from Memi—a china teapot, a calico apron, a handful of sea glass—and she is lost in the memory of her grandmother and what these little pieces meant to her. That night, when she sees Poppy laughing and talking with Tessie, Memi’s best friend, she is shocked: How could they forget about Memi so quickly? Why is Poppy smiling with another woman? Sophia would never forget about Memi. She and her summer friend, Thomas, talk about it, and Sophia continues to not only remember Memi, but to stay angry at Poppy. As Sophia’s weekend progresses, she must learn that honoring Memi and moving on are very much the same. Bauer’s touching debut may be enjoyed by all ages. While the prose is simple (but not too simple!) for younger readers, adult eyes will not tire of its rhythm, expressive language and descriptions of the seashore. Its pacing is also excellent—a difficult feat in a short book, but Bauer skillfully holds interest with a balance of journey and realization. Notes by Memi, included in the book, add a personal angle to Sophia’s grief. The work is a revealing, immersive look at death through a child’s eyes: It is easy, for a child, to think that moving on is forgetting about a person who has passed on. Adults know that this is not so.
Will resonate with kids who have lost grandparents or other family members.