Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Friday, June 30, 2017

Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz

How I Heard About It:  Looking back I think one of my very first ARC's was Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz.  Through Twitter I began to hear about an upcoming book called Finding Perfect.  Readers were raving about it.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and connect with Elly.  That story was quite special and I used it as a read aloud during the past school year.  After we were done we had the opportunity to visit with Elly.  I would say it was one of our best Skype visits all year.  It was exciting to learn that Elly was coming out with a new novel in January of 2018.  I'm a member of #bookexpedition and Smart Cookie is making the rounds.  I received a personal delivery of the book at ALA.  I began the story yesterday and finished it up early this morning.  

What It Is About:  After losing a family member can that unit ever feel complete again?  That is the question that Francine (Frankie) is trying to answer.  She was once a family of three and now it is just her dad and herself.  Frankie decides to take action and posts an "ad" on a dating site.  She is looking for "Possibles" that can slide into the role of wife and mother.  Keeping this from her father is no easy feat and she isn't thrilled with the potential prospects.  Her best friend Elliot is a fan of "ghost" searching and Frankie finds herself going along for the ride.  During one "search", they stumble across some information that touches Frankie's father, grandmother, mother; and even the evil land developer who wants to take away their B&B.  Frankie wishes she could rely on her former best friend Jessica to help, but for a variety of reasons, they aren't speaking.  As Frankie and Elliot venture further into their "search", they need to figure out how to stop the plan.  During this "journey", Frankie will uncover secrets about all of her family members both alive and dead.  All she really wanted was to put her family back together; but she realizes life isn't as easy as that.    

What I Thought Of It:  After reading Finding Perfect, I didn't know if Elly could write another "PERFECT" novel.  Well, now that I've completed Smart Cookie; I know she can.  There are some novels that you know are going to be "perfection" and I knew that was the case with this book.  The plot started strong, continued strong, and ended on such a high note that I could hardly stand it.  Frankie was a one-of-a-kind character I won't forget.  I also thought Elliott, gram, dad, and Jessica were so thoroughly developed.  If I wasn't reading so fast to find out what was going to happen, I would have slowed down and highlighted the many beautiful lines that Elly put on the page.  The themes of family, friendship, and love were sprinkled on each and every page.  There were moments when I was laughing out loud and moments when my eyes were quite "watery".  I'm not doing this book justice.  There is really no way that I can put into words how much I loved, enjoyed, and "FELT" this story.  I can't wait to share with my new students during the school year.  Well done Elly, well done!  

Who Should Read It:  This story would make the PERFECT read aloud for a group of fourth, fifth, sixth; and even middle school classrooms.  There were many chapters that ended on a "cliff hanger" that would leave listeners "begging" for more.  I also love the fact there would be so many moments where a class could have a deep and meaningful conversation about family, friends, and the struggles that we all face.  Of course the book could also be put into the hands of individual readers.  The chapters are short, include awesome chapter headings, and the plot is one that will touch each and every reader.  If you are an adult reader that craves top-notch middle-grade stories, then this is the book for you.  I know you have to wait until January of 2018; but it is WORTH the wait.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

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