Monday, August 9, 2010
As Simple as It Seems is Simply Good
So. B. It. enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the library this year. One of my fifth grade girls read it and loved it and pretty soon, half of the fifth grade girls were reading and loving Sarah Weeks' novel. At the end of the year it was selected by our middle schools as a summer reading choice for in coming sixth graders. Since I read it so long ago, I have a vague memory of it, but I do remember that I liked it so I wasn't surprised when the kids picked it up and loved it too.
Just recently at Cover to Cover I saw a new title, As Simple as It Seems, by Sarah Weeks so I reserved it at the library since I hadn't really heard anything about it. I just finished it, and it is REALLY good. So good that I'm adding it to my Newbery watch list. I haven't seen it on any lists so far, but then I haven't seen too many lists so far. Hopefully it will get some attention soon.
Verbena Colter is a 12 year old Fetal Alcohol Syndrome child. She has struggled in school all of her life but with supportive parents she does ok. She looks different from other 12 year olds. She is smaller than other 12 year olds, but she still has all of the difficulties of a 12 year old girl.
At school she only has one best friend, and when that friend sort of abandons her for another more popular girl, she is left with nobody. That's bad enough, but when she discovers a family secret, she begins to wonder who she really is, and that's trouble. Not big trouble, but she becomes moody and embarrassed about her family situation which brings out a lot of anger towards a mother and father who have done nothing but make her the center of their world. She's not spoiled, just loved...a lot!
On her birthday she wishes she could be someone else and when a boy and his mother move into the "haunted" house up the road, she is given the chance. In her anger Verbena begins to do stuff that her mother has told her not to do, nothing really bad, just going for walks alone along the nearby Bonners Lake even though she can't swim. While there, she discovers an old abandoned boat and the new boy nicknamed Pooch.
Pooch has some issues from health to family and he mistakes Verbena for the ghost of the girl who lived in the house where he is staying until she drowned in Bonners Lake. Verbena goes along with it and sees it as her birthday wish coming true. Eventually she wishes she could tell him the truth so she could have another real friend but she can't figure out a way to end the lie.
Without spoiling the story, let's just say dramatic events lead to a dramatic climax which lead to an very satisfying end. Sarah Weeks mixes the right amounts of humor and drama to keep the reader in the book, I couldn't put it down. That's why I'll be recommending As Simple as It Seems to my fifth grade boys and girls and adding it to my Newbery watch list.
Kiss the Book