Dear Sweet Pea
by Murphy, Julie






*Starred Review* Murphy (Dumplin', 2015) creates a wonderfully realistic portrait of tween life in her first middle-grade novel. Sweet Pea has a lot going on as she muddles through seventh grade-first and foremost, her parents' divorce. Though it's as amicable as they come, the divorce has thrown Sweet Pea for a loop, especially since her dad has simply moved down the street into a weirdly identical house. Luckily, she still has her best friend, Oscar, and cat, Cheese, to help her stay grounded. In an unlikely but immensely enjoyable twist, Sweet Pea begins ghostwriting responses for her neighbor's popular advice column, "Miss Flora, Mae I?," while housesitting for her. She's delighted when her writing appears in the local paper, but her clandestine hobby has complicated ramifications. It comes between her and Oscar, yet it also allows her to repair another friendship and work through her feelings about the divorce. Sweet Pea is a treasure of a protagonist. She's fat without it being a cause for shame (though it comes with realistic challenges, like shopping in the junior's section), and she's not shy, popular, or an outcast: she's gloriously normal. Her burgeoning crush, embarrassment over period supplies, and utter mortification from barfing at a trampoline party will draw smiles and sympathy from readers, but Sweet Pea's flaws and personal revelations are what make her unforgettable.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A massive promotional campaign is being deployed for this book, and Murphy's younger Dumplin' fans will already be lining up for it. Grades 4-8. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





*Starred Review* Murphy (Dumplin', 2015) creates a wonderfully realistic portrait of tween life in her first middle-grade novel. Sweet Pea has a lot going on as she muddles through seventh grade-first and foremost, her parents' divorce. Though it's as amicable as they come, the divorce has thrown Sweet Pea for a loop, especially since her dad has simply moved down the street into a weirdly identical house. Luckily, she still has her best friend, Oscar, and cat, Cheese, to help her stay grounded. In an unlikely but immensely enjoyable twist, Sweet Pea begins ghostwriting responses for her neighbor's popular advice column, "Miss Flora, Mae I?," while housesitting for her. She's delighted when her writing appears in the local paper, but her clandestine hobby has complicated ramifications. It comes between her and Oscar, yet it also allows her to repair another friendship and work through her feelings about the divorce. Sweet Pea is a treasure of a protagonist. She's fat without it being a cause for shame (though it comes with realistic challenges, like shopping in the junior's section), and she's not shy, popular, or an outcast: she's gloriously normal. Her burgeoning crush, embarrassment over period supplies, and utter mortification from barfing at a trampoline party will draw smiles and sympathy from readers, but Sweet Pea's flaws and personal revelations are what make her unforgettable.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A massive promotional campaign is being deployed for this book, and Murphy's younger Dumplin' fans will already be lining up for it. Grades 4-8. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





Near the end of seventh grade, a girl tangles with her family's changing shape, her friendships' changing shapes, and a professional advice column that's left temptingly unguarded. Sweet Pea lives in Valentine, Texas. Her therapist mother and housepainter father are divorcing—so amicably that Dad moves only two houses away, into a house almost identical in both structure and d├ęcor. This "twinning-parent-freak-show" is meant to keep Sweet Pea's life stable, but it doesn't. An ex-best-friend reenters Sweet Pea's life; a current best friend feels (justifiably) unappreciated; and Sweet Pea's job facilitating paperwork for a newspaper advice columnist—the peculiar old woman living between Sweet Pea's two "mirror" houses—gives Sweet Pea unfettered access to the incoming letters and the columnist's typewriter. What's a girl to do? Sweet Pea's first-person narration is endearing and funny while her oblivious self-absorption on certain topics lets readers figure out connections first. Murphy's portrayal of a fat protagonist whose body is neither symbolic nor problematic is cheerworthy; a scene about the juniors' section carrying only sizes too small for Sweet Pea is the only one that shows discrimination, and her parents and community support her. Sweet Pea, her parents, and the advice columnist are white (refreshingly, specified rather than assumed); one best friend is Mexican, the other mixed-race (black/white). A few characters are gay. An excellent blend of eccentricity, humor, genuine sweetness, and mild drama. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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