December 22, 2014

Review: Absolutely Truly

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
Grade: B
Summary: An unsent letter in a first edition copy of Charlotte's Web leads to a hunt for treasure in this heartwarming middle grade mystery from the author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club.

Now that Truly Lovejoy's father has been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and is having trouble finding work back home, the family moves from Texas to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, to take over Lovejoy's Books, a struggling bookstore that';s been in the family for one hundred years.

With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy's Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edition of Charlotte's Web, which subsequently goes missing from the bookshop. What's inside the envelope leads Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I didn't start reading a ton of YA until the middle of 2013. But when I look back and consider things, there were a few books that were gateways to my YA addiction. One is Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The other? The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (it's MG at first, but since the characters are 16 by the last book I'd consider the series lower YA as well). So Heather is now one of those authors who are on auto-buy for me. 
Absolutely Truly is firmly middle grade. Its main characters are all about 12. They don't really worry about romance or college. Truly Lovejoy's main concerns are her families, the mystery, and pre-algebra. Frederick's latest story is one full of quirky names and small town charm. She has woven a tale of realistic emotions and worries, but it's one that also contains fun. At times, I felt like things were a bit too easy for Truly and her friends in the process of solving the mystery, but that didn't ruin the book for me. One of my favorite parts was a cameo by a character quite familiar to fans of The Mother-Daughter Book Club (and no, it's not one of the protagonists or primary secondary characters).
Overall, Absolutely Truly is quite clean. Perhaps the "worst" moment is when Truly talks about Toot Soup (what her family has come to call bean soup).

The Verdict: As a fan of pretty much everything Frederick writes, I highly recommend Absolutely Truly.

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