Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles ~ Publication 4/2/19 ~ @joknowles @candlewick GUEST BLOGGER REVIEW by 6th Grader…Katy Schuessler

If home is where the heart is, what would happen if you lost it? Compassion and humor infuse the story of a family caught in financial crisis and a girl struggling to form her own identity. 

It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s thirteenth birthday. She can’t wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah. But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify. Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about anyboy — or what that means. With all the heart of her award-winning novel See You At Harry’s, Jo Knowles brings us the story of a girl who must discover where her heart is and what that means for her future.

The following review was written by our very special guest blogger, Katy Schuessler. Katy is a 6th grader and past student of mine. She LOVES to read and was excited to review this ARC book by Jo Knowles! Thank you Katy for your honest review of “Where the Heart is”. If you read this review and have questions for Katy, please comment on this post. Enjoy!

“Where The Heart Is” is about a young girl named Rachel. She has just turned thirteen, and life isn’t as easy as it used to be. Her parents are arguing about money more than they used to, and her new neighbors want her to take care of their animals. They ask her to walk a baby cow and feed a crazy pig that charges every time Rachel gets close. It gets worse when her best friend Micha wants to take their friendship to “The Next Level” when, even if she wanted to, Rachel can’t feel that way about him, or maybe even any boy. When Micha stops talking to her, it leaves her alone with just Rainbow, her horse, her sister Ivy, and her neighbor’s animals to keep her company all summer. Will Rachel ever make up with Micha? Will her new crush say what she’s hoping for? Will anything ever be back to normal?

I loved this book. The author made her characters relatable and it made you want to keep reading just so you could know if Rachel or Ivy were ok. When I was reading, I would feel emotions, as if  I was a part of the story. For example: Rachel yelled at her sister. I know what it’s like to be yelled at by your older sibling when your just trying to help. I started feeling sad and angry at the same time. I felt attached to the characters. When I read a single story, I don’t expect to be so attached to the characters. I expect it from a long series, but not from a single story. The author did an amazing job of keeping you invested in her characters. She gave us closure, but left me wanting more!

Jo Knowles is the award-winning author of the young adult novels Lessons from a Dead Girl, Jumping Off Swings, and Read Between the Lines,among others. She has also written two middle-grade novels: Still a Work in Progress and See You at Harry’s. She lives in Vermont.

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