Author: Dooley, Sarah
After her brother dies in a fire, Sasha Harless has no one left and nowhere to turn, but soon discovers family she didn't know she had, and begins to heal through poetry.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 180935
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 68568
School Library Journal (+) (00/02/16)
Booklist (+) (01/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2016 *Starred Review* Five, seven, five—the pattern of haiku—is the combination for Sasha to open the door to her poetic self. The 13-year-old lives in Caboose, West Virginia, and if it wasn’t for bad luck, she’d have no luck at all: her mother walked away, her father died in the mines, and her brother was killed in the line of fire, leaving foster mom Phyllis to do her best with egg-salad sandwiches served on the porch at four in the morning. Sasha, meanwhile, tries to manage her desperate life, but blackout rages keep setting her back. Thankfully, a school counselor, new friends, and a poetry club with an unlikely leader help Sasha begin a life with her next-door cousin, Mikey, and his dad, Hubert. Through the club and its contests, Dooley subtly exposes readers to poetic forms that invite engagement, understanding, and expression, while Sasha and her extended family are depicted with a sweetness reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant—a southern soulfulness that is warm even as it reveals the downtrodden struggles of a mining community. With a lifetime goal of leaving Caboose behind, Sasha has to wonder why it is that we leave home when the only family we know is there. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2016 Gr 5–7—The West Virginia coal mining town of Caboose seems to be to blame for the mounting losses of everyone Sasha loves. First her mother walks out and doesn't come back. Then her father dies in a mining accident. And finally her caretaker older brother Michael dies while fighting a fire. Angry and los t, the seventh grader initially shuts down everyone around her. Her journey through grief is made possible by a certain resilience of those around her and her willingness to see the neighbor kid Mikey, a distant relative, as a friend. That opening allows other friends to appear, and she soon joins a poetry club where she discovers the healing power of putting her feelings and ideas into words. Ostensibly motivated by a scholarship contest, Sasha is not really going to be immune to pain in the future, but she's finding a way to cope. The changes in her life, the anguish she feels, and her journey forward are expertly portrayed through Dooley's use of first-person narration, which is sensitive and gentle without being soft or sentimental. The poetry is wonderful and feels authentic to Sasha's years without being unduly adult. Various verse forms are explored, including haiku, cinquain, and quatrain. VERDICT What could have been a mushy tearjerker resonates with emotional authenticity in Dooley's deft hands; an excellent purchase for upper elementary and middle school collections.—Carol A. Edwards, Formerly at Denver Public Library, CO - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.