cover image Sweeping Up the Heart

Sweeping Up the Heart

Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-285254-0

Henkes’s profound understanding of the adolescent heart and mind is evident as always in this story of two 12-year-olds frustrated by their parents. Amelia wanted to go to Florida for spring break, but her father, who hates to travel, has refused. Stuck at home in Madison, Wis., with her melancholy dad and their housekeeper, Mrs. O’Brien, her only respite is sessions at the nearby clay studio, where she’s been sculpting since she was six. The first day of break, she’s surprised to see a stranger there: the owner’s nephew, Casey, who is staying with his aunt while his parents work on their failing marriage. Finding a kindred spirit in each other is the first of many unexpected events that occur that week. While the two are in a coffee shop, Casey has an “eerie” sensation about a woman outside the window. He’s convinced that she’s Amelia’s long-dead mother (“Sort of like a ghost, but she’s real”), and Amelia determines to discover who she is. In economic prose, Henkes (The Year of Billy Miller) evokes the complexity of his characters’ emotions and relationships, and offers a feel-good resolution. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)