Book Review: See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles

See You at Harry's
Author: Jo Knowles
Reading Level: MG/YA
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: May 8th 2012
Review Source: Candlewick Press
Available: See You at Harry's

Summary: (from goodreads) Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges - until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she's not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn't know he's gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there's Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone's world. He's devoted to Fern, but he's annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn't for Ran, Fern's calm and positive best friend, there'd be nowhere to turn. Ran's mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it's true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

(3.5 Trees exact)

There are a lot of firsts, when growing up. Secret crushes, 1st days of school, embarrassments, loneliness and sometimes even pain. Jo Knowles’ new novel See You at Harry’s, encompasses all. This is a middle-level novel truly written for that age range, which is centered around the coming of age theme, showcased in the life of Fern and others around her. 

Fern, the main character, is faced with so many real life dilemmas of being a girl in a new school. Her best friend Ran, offers encouragement and true friendship. Ran helps Fern through all the problems that she faces. His calm domineer and cool personality helps her get through the most difficult moments that lurk around each corner of her young like. Unfortunately, mom and dad have other issues of their own. Mom is very reserved, while father is determined to put the family business on the map, no matter what it takes. His energy and efforts are poured into the family restaurant, while the lives of Fern and her other siblings, wither away with their frustrations. 

Jo Knowles creates characters that are truly life like. So realistic in a sense, that some are truly walking the walk of today’s young people in a world filled with temptation, bullying, heartaches and doubt. In the end, it’s tears that begin to heal a broken family, but will those tears be enough to mend it for life?

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