Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Middle of Somewhere by J. B. Cheaney

Main Character: Twelve-year-old Ronnie Sparks
Location: Missouri and Kansas
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: J Fiction

12-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Sparks loves order and organization. Unfortunately, she doesn't get much of it at home since she often has to look after Gee, her 7-year-old brother who has ADHD. When their mother injures her knee (in a rollicking incident involving a squirrel,) their grandfather agrees to take the children on a road trip in his RV--he's traveling across Kansas on a wind prospecting expedition.

There is an old-fashioned feel to this book; set in contemporary times, it feels like it's set in 1950's. In some ways it reminded me of Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder. You have the disruption of normal life, the trying to build a relationship with an almost unknown, and often cantankerous, grandparent, and the episodic adventures along the way. These adventures, which are potentially dangerous and life-threatening, are treated in a light-hearted manner, so there is never a feeling of dread or menace. In her desire for a normal, organized like, Ronnie is akin to Georgina in Barbara O'Connor's How to Steal a Dog.

The Middle of Somewhere is on the 2008-2009 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee list.

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