Reaching for Sun, and it is beautifully expressed through the metaphor of flowers in a garden.
Josie is thirteen and the seedling in a family which includes a horticulture student mother and a wildflower gardening grandmother. Her cerebral palsy has made it challenging for Josie to make friends with her peers, so much of her interactions are limited to her family, until a new neighbor named Jordan comes around. The development of their relationship is the best part of the book--they fill a need in each other, yet there is a messy and complicated side to their friendship. It feels so realistic for two kids who haven't had many friends in the past.
I've never met anyone with cerebral palsy, but this book serves as a good introduction. Most important for readers is learning that while Josie's speech and walk may be different, her thoughts are clear and beautiful. The pressures that Josie faces are similar to those experienced by my students. In "Despite," she says:
"Mom wants me
to love school like she does,
follow her lead to college,
make my mark:
the first astronaut with
or at least
a doctor or lawyer,
something with a title or abbreviations, I guess.
But Mom's dreams for me
are a heavy wool coat I
wear, even in summer."
While they may not have cerebral palsy to contend with, at one time or another, all readers have felt like Josie in the last few lines.
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is a talented writer, weaving descriptive language throughout her poems. I look forward to more novels in verse from her.