Review Detail

3.3 1
Young Adult Fiction 2553
Amazing Tale
Overall rating
Writing Style
Pearl (Bean) and Henry have been best friends since elementary school. They also have the strangest mothers. Bean is close to her grandfather Gus who isn't too happy with her mother. Then Gus dies and family secrets come out. Bean has to find the strength to confront these secrets even when she knows her life will never be the same.

I really loved this story. I'm a huge fan of Jo Knowles. And this book doesn't disappoint! Both Bean and Henry are flawed and from dysfunctional families. Knowles gives us characters we learn to love.

Bean's best friend Henry has seen her through thick and thin. They both have the strangest mothers in their town. Henry's mother Sally hasn't moved from her spot on the couch since Henry's father left. Her favorite show is Days of Our Life. Bean's mother is never really around and is always fighting with Gus, Bean's grandfather.

When the story unfolds, we feel Bean's pain at losing her beloved grandfather and the anger she feels at how flippant her mother treats it. One example of this happens at the river where they hold an informal funeral to release the ashes of Gus. What happens next is kind of shocking but also one reason why I love this story so much. It shows us a range of emotions Bean goes through, which feel very real.

The revelation that comes not too long after Gus' death is not really surprising nor is how Bean deals with it. She's more upset at her mother for not being honest. Then her mother gives her a diary and tells Bean to read it to understand better what happened. The images here are both powerful and gripping. Bean sees another side of her grandfather but also feels the pain her mother had kept to herself.

This is a moving tale on how a town and people's ignorance can cause tragedy in someone's life. But it's also a tale of hope, redemption, and even forgiveness. For sure a tale that will have you smiling at the end.
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