cover image Tillie Heart and Soul

Tillie Heart and Soul

Mary Atkinson. Maine Authors Publishing, $14.95 paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-63381-108-9

Atkinson introduces a relatable heroine in 10-year-old Tillie, who never knew her father and whose volatile mother is away at a treatment center to get sober. Tillie lives in Massachusetts with her loving gay uncle in a piano factory converted to lofts and artist studios. An avid roller skater, Tillie is eager to take part in the annual skate-a-thon; she also hopes that her mother might be able to attend. After Tillie and her friend Shanelle meet new student Gloria, Tillie becomes increasingly self-conscious about not having a parent around. Atkinson excels at exploring the girls’ shifting friendship dynamics and the difficulty of managing expectations when it comes to an unreliable loved one. The conclusion may not surprise many readers, but Tillie’s honest voice resonates, and secondary characters, notably Uncle Fred and the surrounding community of artists, are equally genuine. Ages 8–12. (BookLife)