I'm really excited to join in the Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday fun, hosted every Monday by Shannon Messenger. Today I want to talk about Amber McRee Turner's fantastic debut, Sway.
From the publisher (Disney*Hyperion):
For four long months, ten-year-old Cass has been dreaming of the day her mom, Toodi, will come home. But when Toodi’s welcome back party takes a turn for the disastrous, Cass finds herself stuck alone with her dull-as-dirt dad, who insists that they set off for the summer on a mysterious adventure—just the two of them.
It turns out Cass’s dad has some big-time surprises up his sleeve. Once they hit the road in an old RV named The Roast, he introduces her to the amazing power of “Sway,” a seemingly magical force that can bring inspiration and joy to people in major need of help.
Cass can think of one particular person who could really use some Sway. If only she could track down Toodi, Cass knows she could convince her mom to come home. But with the help of a little home-spun magic, Cass realizes that the things she needs most have always been within her reach.
Way back when I was a middle-grader, I read Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons, and I think part of me has been trying to recapture that reading experience ever since. Reading Sway, I finally did. Like Walk Two Moons, Sway is about a journey, both emotional and literal, in search of a mom and in search of something to believe in.
But I don't mean to simply gush about Sway in terms of some similarities to one of my favorite books from my childhood. I loved Amber McRee's limber use of language (reading this book, you'll want to stop and read lines aloud to fully appreciate the wordplay), her richly drawn characters, and the playful humor that compliments the occasionally heartstrings-tugging plot. As someone who loves to read and write historical fiction, I loved the tidbits about historical figures worked into the story, too.
I can't pick up a sliver of soap now without smiling and thinking of Cass.