When Rebecca Stead wrote the book THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE she gave our middle grade readers a great gift- the gift of self forgiveness. What a beautiful treasure to carry forward through life. Now Liz Garton Scanlon has picked up the baton and carried it a bit farther. She has written a story about death and dying and guilt and how a young person can learn he/she/they can come to an experience in their lives that will leave them shocked and shaken. They will need to find their way back.
Meet Millie whose older sister always gets to do everything first leaving Millie waiting and waiting until finally it will be her turn. She also has a dad who lives in the city and doesn't always show up for her or for her sister when they need him.
In the middle of all of Millie's struggling, something wonderful happens. She gets asked to babysit. This is one of those things Millie has waited and waited for. The day comes and Millie goes over to her neighbor's house. The little girl, Lolo, has been put to bed. Now Millie's job is to be there in case Lolo wakes up and needs a big person.
And then.... for some reason.... some unknown reason....Lolo passes away.
Did Millie do anything wrong? Was there anything she could have done...should have done...so this awful thing would not have happened?
The wisdom and great heart of Liz Garton Scanlon have arrived to walk hand in hand with Millie as she finds her way through this pain and this guilt and this grief. We walk with Millie, too, hoping she will have the courage and the support she needs to come out the other side.
It is a tremendously painful thing to lose a small child. To experience that depth of loss is profound. To write a story about it, to create a road map through it and deliver that map to any reader who picks up this book is incredibly courageous and deeply caring. Talk about empathy and courage and deep caring for our children. For our young readers to be allowed to see someone else in your situation and watch them move through familiar dark places filled with pain is a gift. It is the gift of hope. Hope in the pages of a book with a story that can carry you through all the years ahead.
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
For readers who love The Thing About Jellyfish and Counting By 7s, Lolo's Light is a deeply honest middle grade novel about grief, redemption, and life as a kid facing both.
This is a truth about growing up: Once in your life, sometime after your first memory but before you can drive a car, something is going to happen to you that doesn't happen to anyone else you know. It might be something good. It might be something bad, or special, or funny, or shocking. For Millie, it's something really sad. Lolo, her neighbors' infant daughter, dies unexpectedly, suddenly, inexplicably, on the night Millie babysits.
It's not Millie's fault. There's nothing she could have done. And there's nothing she can do now.
So how does she go on?
She does what you'll do. She finds her way.
This poignant and profound coming-of-age story portrays a tragic experience of responsibility and its poisonous flip side: guilt. Emotional and important, this is an honest and empathetic portrait of a girl at her most vulnerable—a mess of grief, love, and ultimately, acceptance—who must reckon with those most difficult of demons: death . . . and life.
A GREAT WAY TO UNDERSTAND DIFFICULT FEELINGS: Coming to terms with one's responsibility for things both our fault and not is a universal experience that can be difficult to process, particularly when grief is involved. Millie offers a great blueprint for young readers who don't understand the surrounding emotions and need help working through them.
A MAIN CHARACTER KIDS WILL LOVE: Millie makes mistakes as she navigates grief. It's often not pretty, but it is very relatable. The author's honest portrayal of this experience will resonate with young readers, whether grieving or not.---from the publisher
232 pages 978-1797212944 Ages 10 and up
Keywords: growing up, babysitting, death and dying, coming of age, tragedy, guilt, grief, dealing with feelings, dealing with emotions, resilience, transformation, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old
Editor's note: Trigger warning: Young child dies while Millie is babysitting her.