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|Dear Sweet Pea|
Author: Murphy, Julie
Thirteen-year-old Patricia, widely known as Sweet Pea, navigates her parents' unconventional divorce and finds herself in the unlikely role of her town's advice columnist.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/15/19)
Booklist (+) (09/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 08/01/2019 *Starred Review* Murphy (Dumplin’, 2015) creates a wonderfully realistic portrait of tween life in her first middle-grade novel. Sweet Pea has a lot going on as she muddles through seventh grade—first and foremost, her parents’ divorce. Though it's as amicable as they come, the divorce has thrown Sweet Pea for a loop, especially since her dad has simply moved down the street into a weirdly identical house. Luckily, she still has her best friend, Oscar, and cat, Cheese, to help her stay grounded. In an unlikely but immensely enjoyable twist, Sweet Pea begins ghostwriting responses for her neighbor’s popular advice column, “Miss Flora, Mae I?,” while housesitting for her. She’s delighted when her writing appears in the local paper, but her clandestine hobby has complicated ramifications. It comes between her and Oscar, yet it also allows her to repair another friendship and work through her feelings about the divorce. Sweet Pea is a treasure of a protagonist. She’s fat without it being a cause for shame (though it comes with realistic challenges, like shopping in the junior’s section), and she’s not shy, popular, or an outcast: she’s gloriously normal. Her burgeoning crush, embarrassment over period supplies, and utter mortification from barfing at a trampoline party will draw smiles and sympathy from readers, but Sweet Pea’s flaws and personal revelations are what make her unforgettable.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A massive promotional campaign is being deployed for this book, and Murphy’s younger Dumplin’ fans will already be lining up for it. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
Booklist - 09/01/2019 *Starred Review* Rahul, an Indian American boy in a small Indiana town, finds seventh grade unsettling. His longtime best friend, Chelsea, suddenly blushes and stammers around a friendly eighth-grader. And Brent, a bully, repeatedly makes disconcerting innuendos about Rahul having a crush on a boy he admires. Taking his grandfather’s advice to choose one thing and excel in it, Rahul almost breaks his leg at football tryouts and meets racial prejudice at an acting audition, before reluctantly joining the Mathletes team, where he works hard and excels. As his inner tension builds, he begins to check and double-check locks and the stove. After talking with a therapist, he thinks through his worries, confronts his nemesis, and finds that his friends are fully with him. Near the story’s end, Rahul comes out as gay to his supportive parents. In his first novel, actor Pancholy creates a number of vivid characters, including Rahul, his grandfather, and his best friend, who counters his reluctance to join the nerdy Mathletes with “Ra, we are nerds! . . . That’s what makes us fun!” More broadly, the author depicts Rahul’s parents’ friends as forming an unusually strong community of belonging for the whole family. An impressive first novel: well paced, sometimes amusing, and wholly engaging. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.