Her younger brother’s critical illness and a transcontinental move create upheaval in 11-year-old Thyme’s life.
In the nine months since her brother, Val, was diagnosed with cancer, Thyme’s family life has been in turmoil. Her family’s relocation to New York from California, for a new treatment to prevent the recurrence of Val’s cancer, leaves Thyme feeling conflicted. Conklin sympathetically addresses Thyme’s struggles to reconcile her longing to return home with her growing awareness of the significance of Val’s new treatment. While depicting the complexity of the family members’ reactions, from older sister Cori’s increasing rebelliousness to their mother’s distracted preoccupation, Conklin also reveals their unwavering support for Val. Despite her determination to remain aloof, Thyme soon becomes attached to her life in New York. She joins work on the school’s spring performance and develops fledging friendships, including one with Jake, who she learns has also experienced grief. Thyme’s efforts to cope with the constant uncertainty and her feelings of insignificance in light of Val’s health issues illuminate the emotional impact a sibling’s serious illness has on the family. Although Thyme may feel invisible next to Val’s illness, when a medical crisis occurs, she realizes her vital importance to her family. Though Thyme and her family appear to be white, her classroom is realistically diverse.
Thyme’s remarkable perseverance and resilience will inspire readers of Conklin’s compassionate tale. (Fiction. 10-14)