The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose and Me
By Sara Nickerson
Expected publication July 21, 2015 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Missy and her brother somehow convince their mother to let them get jobs as blueberry pickers this year. For Patrick, it's a chance to earn money to change his identity when the next school year begins. For Missy, it's an opportunity to keep herself busy while everything around her seems to be changing. But neither is prepared for what this summer will really have in store for them.
This book came my way through the Penguin Young Readers Author Program. I hadn't really heard much about it prior to reading, and haven't seen much talk of it since either. I'll admit that it caught my eye with the title - I kind of assumed it would be set in Maine (it's not).
I'm a bit conflicted with this book. I think Nickerson does a decent job of capturing the struggle of remaining true to oneself while everything around you seems to be changing. She also deftly explores how relationships can change even when that may be the last thing we want and we may do everything in our power to stop the change from occurring. I liked the exploration of both friendships and familial relationships and I loved Missy's discovery of a truer sense of self while in the blueberry fields.
But, I had a really difficult time sympathizing with Missy. I could not relate to her at all. Maybe it's because I didn't experience a lot of what she does, but, really, I don't think that's it. I think part of it is that Nickerson doesn't fully explain the reasoning behind many of Missy's actions until much later. Because of this, her actions often seem out of proportion to the instigator she is reacting against. This makes it difficult, at least for me, not to judge her for behaving in ways that I find awful and mean.
Additionally, this book felt overly long. It seemed to drag a bit and I'm not sure the connection between the brothers of the blueberry field and Missy's own life was made as strongly as it could have been.
Ultimately, this book was disappointing for me. It will likely find readers among girls who gobble up all my middle-grade contemporary stock, but I'm not sure I'll be endorsing it too heavily.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.