You Make My Heart Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson
This summer is going to be different. After all those hours with Dr. Clementi, Annabel Stockton is headed to spend the summer with her parents in farm country. There will be no spreadsheets on the refrigerator limiting her life to little boxes filled in and outlined by her mother. There will be no friends who saw her in the middle of a panic attack. Annabel might even start to eat again.
This is going to be a summer about freedom and the door to that freedom swings wide when Annabel catches sight of a girl in a cornfield. Catherine, who prefers the name of California, is visiting her grandfather on the nearby farm. The two girls find each other and a summer of growing up in the wild begins.
California is determined to convince her mother, Piper, to come back to this farm where she grew up. A family tragedy separated Piper from her father and Piper has never been back. If Annabel, who changes her name to Annie, and California can find the two ponies her mother once loved, California is sure Piper will come home.
What follows is hours and days and even some nights of searching and sweating and stretching as far as they can to make the dream come true. As Annie leaves her home day after day, she is demanding that her parents change and give her the right to go where she wants, to do what she wants without being under their constant scrutiny and guidance. It’s painful and complicated.
So, these two girls, two thorns, prickle and stick at each other and the whole time they are building each other up one molecule at a time. This is a friendship whose time had come.
The girls, their parents, and California’s grandfather have so much to let go of. There is so much change that needs to happen and for readers whose lives are less than golden this story is an important journey. Can parents who are doing it wrong do it right? Can life really get better?
This is a story of families and parenting and mistakes. This is a story of two girls who find each other at the most important time. Interestingly, the emotional connection among the characters hides itself away beneath the surface in this book until the end when it explodes.
For readers who need the emotional arc, you’ll need to hang in there as these girls figure things out but you’ll get everything you needed from this story and more. Have the tissue box handy.
278 pages Ages 10-13 978-0062374547
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com