cover image Forget-Me-Not Blue

Forget-Me-Not Blue

Sharelle Byars Moranville. Holiday House, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5359-7

Fifth grade Des Moines, Iowa, resident Sofie feels lucky to have her 13-year-old brother Connie looking after her in their mother’s chaotic household. Despite his care, however, she yearns to have a more stable relationship with her mom, who struggles with drug dependency and is often in abusive relationships. Things begin looking up when Sofie’s mother starts working at the restaurant owned by family friend Tommy, until she suddenly disappears for three weeks. When she returns, she’s immediately arrested for crimes she committed with her boyfriend. Now the children need a new guardian, but after the court deems that their beloved great-grandfather Gunner can only keep Con, due to Gunner’s recent incarceration, Sofie worries she might be taken from the only people she feels safe with. Sofie’s vulnerable POV and her propensity to highlight the good in every situation exude warmth, and a number of cozy, joyful moments, as when Con buys Sofie a pair of special “brand-new, in-a-box, straight-from-the-store shoes,” help buoy wrenching setbacks and conflict caused by the characters’ familial dynamics. An optimistic conclusion, ferried by an enduring heroine, rounds out this hopeful novel by Moranville (Surprise Lily). Main characters read as white. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)