Della Kelly lives with her parents and baby sister Miley on a farm in North Carolina, and the family runs a produce stand. It's a hot summer, and things are not going very well for the farm, so it's alarming to Della when her mother starts to exhibits some signs of the schizophrenia that forced her to be hospitalized when Della was younger. Della thinks that she can help by helping more around the house and consulting the local "Bee Lady" who honey supposedly has affected miraculous cures in the past. No matter what she does, though, her mother seems to get worse. Luckily, with the help of friends, neighbors, and family, Della and her father are able to get her mother into care and try to put their efforts into taking care of Miley and saving the farm.
Strengths: This was a good portrayal of how mental illness can affect a family and make a child think that she somehow caused the problem. Della keeps this feeling to herself for a long time, but eventually seeks help, which is realistic. The farm stand setting is different and interesting. Supportive community is also nice to see depicted.
Weaknesses: Poor Della. I wish that something else were going on in the plot that occasionally provided a diversion for her summer. What I really think: I almost want to buy it for the cover, but it's a bit too slow for what my readers tend to want in a problem novel.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her reviews at msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness.
When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.
With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.
But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.--from the publisher
256 pages 978-0062665867 Ages 8-12
Read alikes: Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl; Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla