SURPRISE LILY by Sharelle Byars Moranville


Age Range: 8 - 12
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What happens when generations of family are filled with surprising secrets?

Ten-year-old Rose Lovell had everything she wanted: farming with her grandmother Ama (aka Tulip) on the land in southern Illinois that had been in their family for years, a dog named Myrtle, a big farmhouse, cows, ponds, pastures, and woods. Ama is “the polestar in Rose’s sky,” ever since Rose’s own mother, Iris, wandered out of her life, seemingly challenged by mental health issues similar to those experienced by others in earlier generations of their family. The unambiguous rhythm of farm life is comforting to Rose, and readers will be drawn to the contrast between the stability of her existence with Ama and the chaos of Iris’ lifestyle. Eventually, a real-life “surprise lily” (Ama’s favorite flower) enters their lives. Rose soon demonstrates that she can take on more responsibility than her own mother can or has, and she gains new insight into and empathy for the challenge of good parenting even if a few plot details strain credulity. The gradual revealing of an accurate family tree, begun as a fourth-grade school report, works as a thoughtful organizing tool for the story. Rose and her family present white.

An affectionate window into Midwestern farm life and families with common threads of struggle. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4264-5
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019


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