This book has been getting a lot of love, especially when it first came out. I've learned, though, that just because everyone else likes a book, doesn't mean I will. But I knew I was reading something special from the first page.
Not only does Auggie have the best grampa in the old, but he’s got a car with personality (and a name!).
August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
What I loved about this book:
- Memorable characters: Most of Schindler’s characters, even the most minor, are interesting. I love how she gives them memorable tags: the pastor who wears sneakers to remind himself how he used to live on the wild side, the principal who’s taken his wife’s maiden name, the teacher who pops indigestion tablets by the handful. The only exception is the antagonist and her side-kick (Auggie’s former BFF), who I wish were a little more well-rounded.
- Description: I’m sure this is something I noticed because I’m working on in my own writing, but I loved how Schindler described everyday things in interesting ways: “Chuck’s grin grows like a flower blooming on fast forward.” The book is peopled with interesting turns of phrase like this showing that kids are the best metaphor-makers.
- Poverty as a theme: One of the things I loved about this book is how Auggie and her family are never ashamed of not having as much as others. The theme of accepting who you are and where you came from was really strong. I loved how grampa said, “Poor folks have poor ways”—and how that was something to be proud of.
- Names: I loved how most of the names of the characters in this book have a history—Auggie was named after her grampa so he would keep her, the aforementioned principal who changed his name, even the truck “Old Glory.” This gave the story depth and interest.For writers: If you’re working on how to avoid typical clichés for describing emotions (heart beating fast, sweaty palms), check out this book. I love how Schindler avoids these clichés with interesting metaphors in Auggie’s voice. Like: "Gus's face is filled with so many worry wrinkles, it reminds me of the collar of a shirt that's been inside of someone's fist."JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY would appeal to fans of quiet, feel-good books like those by Cynthia Lord, Linda Urban, and Danette Haworth.Have you read any interesting middle grades lately?
If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.