Book Review: Lost Kites and Other Treasures by Cathy Carr
Cathy Carr’s Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a moving and heartfelt middle-grade novel about mental illness, the transformative power of art, and the ever-changing complications and joys of family life.
“Sincere and funny . . . leaves readers with a sense of hope.” –Sara Zarr, author of A Song Called Home
“Will be treasured by readers everywhere.” –Megan E. Freeman, award-winning author of Alone
Twelve-year-old Franny Petroski never lets anyone know how often she thinks of the charismatic, troubled mom who left her years ago—any more than she talks about the unaccountable things Mom did while she was still in the picture. Life with Nana is safe and secure, and Franny’s innovative art projects fill in any lonesome times.
But when Nana has an accident and Franny’s estranged uncle comes home to help out for a while, some long-guarded family secrets come to light. Franny has to use all of her courage, as well as all of her creativity, to come to terms with the discoveries she makes about her mother—and herself.
6th grade Franny has lived with her grandma since age 4. Her mother had various issues that prohibited her from raising Franny (we learn later that she was in prison and also had bipolar disorder) and her father was never in the picture. Franny had lots of issues when she was younger–she was prone to tantrums and lying, she struggled in school. She routinely saw a school counselor and still does, sometimes, for check ins. Things have been okay with Nana, though Franny does keep a running list of Things Currently Worrying Franny Petroski. But when Nana slips and breaks her knee, everything starts to unravel. Or maybe… maybe everything starts to come together better than ever. Both things can be true.
Franny and Nana have to move to a different home for a while, one that can accommodate a wheelchair. Franny’s estranged uncle, Gabe (Nana’s son), comes to help out for a while, though no one seems excited about this situation. Even with Gabe there, Franny is doing an awful lot–laundry, dishes, making meals, running errands. She’s also dealing with the fact that her best friend, Lucy, is moving to England. And her other best friend, Ruben, starts to pull away from Franny when she hurts his feelings. Ruben’s also been hanging out with a new friend, one Franny can’t stand. AND, to make things even worse, he betrays her trust with something she told him in confidence.
But. There are good things. She loves art class, does well in it, and really connects with her teacher. She does have other friends and starts to hang out with them more. And she’s getting to know Carlton, her mom’s childhood best friend, who, unbeknownst to Franny, played a significant role in her childhood. Her grandma is, surprisingly, coming out of her cranky little shell, connecting with others in a recovery group, practicing Spanish, considering traveling, and even agreeing to a little party at their new home. Franny is shocked to see these little changes in her grandma, and while having her uncle there sure has its ups and downs, it turns out to be a pretty good thing for their little family. Through all of these changes, Franny and the adults in her life learn more about apologizing, forgiveness, mistakes, and the difference between privacy and secrecy.
A really well done, nuanced look at families and secrets full of love and hope.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the author
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: 02/06/2024
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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