Perfect for families in an adjustment period
Jenna’s Great Aunt Tannie isn’t doing so well. After a series of accidents, Jenna’s mom decides to ask Tannie if she will move in with them, where she can help Tannie out. Tannie is reluctant at first but agrees, and Jenna’s household will have to get used to the new adjustments.
What I Loved:
For any child that has lived with an elderly or not in the best health family member, TWO FOR JOY will feel very familiar. Kids may or may not always comprehend the full logistics of the situation, but there is no doubt many like Jenna are keenly aware that things have changed and that kindness is needed more than anything. Her growth from expecting her Tannie to be able to do all the exciting physical things they did in the past to recognizing that Tannie may not be capable of doing them is very touching. Jenna supplies a wonderful brightness in her family, full of encouragement and hope, while never being overly naïve.
The author captures the frustrations that any household adjustment can catalyze perfectly. Grace, Jenna’s mom, puts all the weight on her shoulders, and naturally, other responsibilities take a hit. Meanwhile, Tannie is used to a lifetime of being strong and independent, so being watched after is a sometimes uncomfortable experience. At the heart of this story is a great message about the importance of families working together, being healthily interdependent, and being honest with each other.
What Left me Wanting More:
Though I enjoy the premise immensely, the plot feels a bit flat. A good chunk of the first part of the story is spent preparing to ask Tannie to move in with them, so the reader doesn’t see as much of the full household as possible. This makes the beginning feel a bit slow, though the story definitely does pick up once Tannie arrives.
The illustrations are beautifully drawn, full of great detail, but the heavy use of the gray color scheme gives a darker feel to the book than the story suggests.
Families who actively look after their older generations should grab TWO FOR JOY immediately. From a young girl’s perspective, this story gives remarkable insight into a family whose dynamics are changing.