Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Source: TLA 2019
Age Group: Middle Grade
Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”
I do not think that there are enough words to describe how amazing of person Julie Murphy is. i remember meeting her for the first time at the Texas Teen Book Festival when her first book Side Effects May Vary published and from that moment on she has become an author favorite. Knowing she was going to publish her first middle grade I couldn't be more excited.
In a story that follows a young girl, Patricia DiMarco, otherwise known as 'Sweet Pea,' whose life becomes upturned when her parents announce they are getting divorce, she has to spend her time in two different homes, and she now has to sit next to her ex-friend. However, when her advice writing neighbor leaves on a trips and entrusts Sweet Pea to forward her letters, Sweet Pea decides to take a different approach.
What makes Julie Murphy's writing amazing is that it is relatable. Especially in today's times. There is this finesse that Murphy possesses when writing that people of any age can connect with and think back and say I felt this or I am currently feeling this. She opens doorways for readers to have conversations about different family dynamics that we see in our regular lives. She writes from a place that feels personal and thus makes it more memorable.
There are certain moments where the right book can make all the difference and for me this book did just that. Murphy took me to a place with the story that allowed me to forget the reality that was happening around me. A story written for middle grade but can transcend to any reader, Julie Murphy is a diamond in the rough and I am glad to see her shine.
I give this book 5 souls!