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GROVER G. GRAHAM AND ME by Mary Quattlebaum


by Mary Quattlebaum

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-32277-1
Publisher: Delacorte

Eleven-year-old Ben Watson is moving into a new foster home, his eighth. A “child of the system,” i.e., the Division of Family and Child Services of the state of Virginia, Ben has closed down emotionally, because experience has taught him that it’s dangerous to make relationships as “the only thing permanent about the system is that nothing is permanent.” Determined not to get involved with people who he’s convinced will soon reject him, Ben stays iceberg cool, keeping his interactions with his new foster family to a minimum. But almost against his will, Ben finds himself getting attached to the baby in the family, the 14-month-old Grover G. Graham, a wild handful of a kid who not only wins him over but also wakes him up emotionally. Like Ben’s too-young-to-be-responsible-for-a-baby mom, Grover’s biological mother dumped him and flew the coop. But now Grover’s mom, who’s hardly more than a kid herself, is back in the picture and trying to reclaim her maternal rights. Although it’s never explicitly stated—the book is narrated in the first person by the protagonist who is unaware of his own psychological motivations—it’s clear that Ben’s dislike for Grover’s bungling mother is rooted in his deeper, more closely held feelings of anger about his own rejection and abandonment. As the tension skillfully builds, Quattlebaum (Aunt Ceecee, Aunt Belle, and Mama’s Surprise, 1999, etc.) ratchets up the stakes, thrusting her sympathetic but wrongheaded protagonist in a position where he could lose everything, finally delivering a credible, emotionally satisfying ending that will have readers reaching for their hankies. (Fiction. 8-12)