SECOND SLEEP by Diane Stanley


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: November 2, 2021

โ˜… Middle Grade Magical Realism โ˜…

“The time by the lake is everything perfect about a childhood summer. And maybe, these nights also hold the answers Max is looking for…”

SECOND SLEEP is a very sweet middle grade book with an original magical premise that I enjoyed. When Max’s mother disappears, his grandmother takes him and younger sister Rosie to the family’s cabin by the lake, a special place where their mom spent her childhood summers. There Max and Rosie find themselves in an alternate dream world filled with kids who share a unique connection. Max soon realizes that his new friends may help him solve the mystery of his missing mother.

I think middle grade readers will have fun with the magical realism in this book. The dream world is never explained, it just is. I loved the friendships that were formed there, between kids that wouldn’t even know each other in the real world (you’ll find out why!).

There were two things that bothered me in this book. One was how formal the dialogue seemed, even with the younger characters. This may be in part because I listened to a synthetic voice galley, and the delivery made it seem stiff. Second was the story behind the mystery and a certain character’s decisions that made me so mad, though a young reader would probably see it differently. I’m glad Max was ultimately able to express his feelings about the situation.

SECOND SLEEP is a lovely story of friendship, dealing with unavoidable change, and holding onto childhood magic for as long as possible. It will leave readers with a lot to think about. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD by Rebecca Mahoney


Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 23, 2021

โœฆ YA Magical Realism | Contemporary Fantasy โœฆ

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD was a strange book. It was like a weird dream that sometimes makes sense and other times you can’t figure out what’s going on.

Since her best friend Gaby’s death, Rose has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks. Driving through the Nevada desert one night, Rose’s car breaks down, and she hears a familiar voicemail messages playing over the radio. This leads Rose to a town called Lotus Valley, where she finds out from the quirky locals that her arrival is part of a prophecy about a flood that will destroy everything.

I appreciate how the author presented Rose’s struggles with PTSD and her grief over Gaby’s death, both realistically and through magical realism. The beginning of the book hooked me right away, but it wasn’t until 70% or so that things started making sense and the pieces of the puzzle clicked together. Up until that point, some of it was downright confusing and frustrating. This is an emotional journey for Rose, who ultimately just wants to make it home, but she has to face the prophecy first. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

๐Ÿ“š Find THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD onย Goodreadsย ๐Ÿ“š

WATCH OVER ME by Nina LaCour


Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 15, 2020

โ˜† Major Cover Love โ˜†

WATCH OVER ME is a unique modern ghost story mixed with magical realism that’s easy to get lost in.

After spending a few years in foster care, Mila has finally aged out of the system. She accepts a teaching job for a homeschool on an isolated farm in Northern California. The farm is a special place, home to foster kids of all ages dealing with a traumatic past. Mila is hoping this is a peaceful place where she will finally fit in, but nobody told her about the ghosts.

Though it’s a short novel, WATCH OVER ME packs an emotional punch. Beautiful prose. Melancholy and heartwarming at the same time. This is a lovey introspective and haunting YA novel about grief, loss, guilt, and healing. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

๐Ÿ“š Find WATCH OVER ME on Goodreads ๐Ÿ“š

ROOT MAGIC by Eden Royce


Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Reading ROOT MAGIC was such a joy โ€” can I give it more than five stars? The protagonist, 11-year old Jezebel Turner, is a mighty and memorable middle grade heroine. Set in South Carolina in 1963, the story follows Jezebel as she begins to study rootwork, a tradition passed down from her Gullah ancestors.

Root magic is misunderstood by many to be something evil, but her Uncle Doc is teaching her the good ways it helps the community. She must use her newly developed powers to save herself and her family from malevolent forces threatening them, and not just otherworldly ones.

There’s so much I loved about this book, and Jezebel is such a relatable character. What stood out for me in particular was the message of friendship and discovering it in someone unexpected. The story was suspenseful and creepy at times, which kept me glued to the pages. The ending chapter was so moving, and of course, I was sad to see it end! I would love to read a sequel about Jezebel and her family, and find out what their futures hold. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

๐Ÿ“š Find ROOT MAGIC on Goodreadsย ๐Ÿ“š