Just Like Jackie

 
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Just Like Jackie

Family is family, no matter what it looks like. Readers will cheer for this pitch-perfect story, just right for fans of such books as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Fish in a Tree.

For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa’s memory has been getting bad—so bad that he sometimes can’t even remember Robbie’s name.

She’s sure that she’s making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can’t resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom.

Now she’s stuck in group guidance—and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There’s no way Robbie’s going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa’s been getting lately, they’d take her away from him. He’s the only family she has—and it’s up to her to keep them together, no matter what.--from the publisher

256 pages    978-0062652911   Ages 8-12

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Robinson lives with her grandfather Charlie in a small town in Vermont. It's always been just the two of them. One boy at school, Alex, gives her a hard time, never calling her the name that she wants to be called (never Robin, sometimes Robbie) and making fun of the fact that she looks very little like her African-American grandfather. After she hits Alex yet again, she gets sent to group counseling, which Alex attends as well. Many of the children in the group are not happy about the latest school assignment, a family tree, because they don't have a lot of information about their families, or are dealing with serious family issues such as divorce or illness. Robbie is dealing with Charlie's worsening dementia. He runs the local car repair business, and luckily has a good assistant, Harold, to watch out for him. Harold, however, is very busy with the new baby daughter than he and his partner Paul have adopted, so Robbie tries to cover her grandfather's condition up as best she can. When she can no longer do this, she finally gets the help she needs.

Strengths: This was a quick and oddly compelling read. So many students have family tree type assignments, and they always worry me for the very reasons mentioned in the story! It is interesting that Robbie and her grandfather don't look alike, and the back stories about the grandmother and mother ring true. This had a Patricia MacLachlan feel to it, with a touch of Miracles on Maple Hill. Weaknesses: The idea that Robbie would be more stoic and calm like her namesake, Jackie Robinson, was an interesting one, but didn't get developed as much as it could have been.

What I really think: A sad book, but at least a hopeful one. I will probably purchase a copy.

Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Specialist, Ohio USA

See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.com

 

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