When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.
After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.
This is a heartfelt story that doesn’t shy away from a tough topic — What is it like when your sibling is diagnosed with a chronic condition like cancer? As hard as it is for the sibling who has the disease, it is also tough on the family.
Thyme, the main character in this story, learned to take care of herself and her brother. She was used to receiving less attention from her parents and learned to keep her worries to herself, not wanting to add more worries to their plate. However, as much as she wanted her brother to get better by receiving the experimental treatment, Thyme also wanted to go home to California where her best friend lived. In this story Thyme had to adjust to changes in her life she had no control over — moving to a new state, starting a new school, and her brother’s treatment progress.
I liked how Thyme’s feelings were complex — her love for her brother which competed with her yearning for her best friend and her home. I liked watching her grow throughout the course of the story as she adjusted to a new reality and began to make new friends. I also liked how the people around her became more three-dimensional and complex as Thyme got to know them more, including her new friends, her siblings, her parents, her neighbour and her crush.
One thing that got to me a bit was the slow pacing. Although the book wasn’t long, at times it felt like nothing was happening. However I cared for the main character which motivated me to finish the book.
If you are looking for a heartfelt MG contemporary with lovable and relatable characters, you might want to give this book a try!
What are your favourite contemporary reads?
Photo by Zach Miles on Unsplash
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