Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
Harvey the West Highland Terrier, hero of Harvey Comes Home, is back with his beloved Maggie. He is also back at Brayside retirement home, where he and Maggie now volunteer along with their friend Austin. There Maggie is drawn to a new resident, Mrs. Fradette, who tells stories of learning to fix cars as a twelve-year-old during the flood of 1950. Mrs. Fradette, with her bold fashion and love of poker, doesn’t fit in among the beige-cardigan-wearing, bridge-playing ladies of Brayside, but she doesn’t seem to care. Maybe that’s why Maggie likes her so much. Since seventh grade began, Maggie hasn’t been fitting in well with her friends, either.
Harvey has a problem of his own. He can smell an intruder in his yard, and he needs to find it. He is so intent on the nighttime fiend that he almost doesn’t notice how worried Austin is about his grandfather, who has been Brayside’s custodian for longer than Harvey has been alive. It seems like the retirement home is planning to give the job to a younger man, an injustice that Austin can’t let pass unchallenged.
In intertwining perspectives, Colleen Nelson tells four stories of individuals standing firm for what they know is right: Josephine Fradette, insisting on her right to become a mechanic; Maggie, certain that her friends’ expectations shouldn’t define who she becomes; Austin, indignantly campaigning against ageism; and Harvey, who has found his home at last and is determined to protect it.
Maggie doesn't really want to see Austin again, but she does think Harvey would love the chance to see his old friends. When she starts volunteering there, she starts considering the other sides of Austin and learns more about the people who live there, particularly the newest resident, Mrs. Fradette, whose stories about her own childhood are really intriguing.
What I loved: I found Maggie to be particularly compelling, and I appreciated her struggles with evolving friendships and the quest for popularity that becomes so common in middle school. Harvey's perspective adds a cuteness to the book that will appeal to young readers who love pets. I also appreciated the members of the retirement community and the perspectives they have throughout. The residents are really special and their characters add a lot to the story. The illustrations throughout are also really great and just as cute as the image of Harvey on the cover.
What left me wanting more: Austin's perspective did not add so much, though he is working on his grandfather's loss of a job and ageism in that they want to hire someone younger and cheaper. I wanted a little more of his outside life and to really fill in his emotions.
Final verdict: With fantastic characters and unique perspectives, HARVEY HOLDS HIS OWN is a middle grade contemporary that will appeal to the preteen audience well. Great for animal lovers and middle schoolers dealing with evolving friendships.