Dear Sweet Pea

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The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.

Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.

What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”--from the publisher

288 pages                              978-0062473073                    Ages 8-12

Keywords:  middle school, family, parents, divorce, acceptance, accepting others, social skills, LGBTQ, gay and lesbian, father/daughter, mother/daughter, friends, friendship, mistakes, secrets, advice column, understanding others, change, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old

 

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Twelve-year-old Sweet Pea is living through a lot of changes right now.  Her former best friend, Kiera, has decided to move on to be friends with some older girls.  Sweet Pea's parents are divorced because her father has accepted that he is gay. They are living on the same street with one house in between their two houses so Sweet Pea can walk back and forth from one to the other depending on whose night it is to have her.  Worst of all,  Sweet Pea's best friend, the guy who watches all the America's Most Haunted shows with her, Oscar, is starting to act a little strange.

So, the social scene is beyond tough.  The home scene is starting to reveal unexpected secrets and at one point Sweet Pea finds herself walking back and forth between the two houses not feeling as though either one is home.

How do you find your way through all this change and all these disappointments and hurt feelings?  How do you regain your dignity after you're the one who pukes on everyone at the trampoline birthday party?

Sweet Pea has some figuring out to do.  Her friends have some figuring out to do. All the parents have some figuring out to do.

Character driven, this middle school journey centering on the very sympathetic Sweet Pea, this is a story that has the potential to be the balm to a lot of middle school angst, real and imagined.  It's hard when things come apart. It's better when you can feel like someone understands and someone has been there before you.  Sweet Pea's heart and head make her the friend you will want to spend time with.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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