Stevie’s parents weren’t connected to their extended families, so when they’re killed in a horrible accident, Stevie is sent to live with her not-so-welcoming grandfather at his down-on-its-luck motel. A long list of quirky characters enter her life – an older disabled couple who still haven’t gone on their honeymoon, the handymen, a few kids, an elderly woman who becomes her tutor and a some long-distant relatives.
It’s realistic middle grade fiction at its best. There’s not a lot of action, although there are always things happening. The days move forward and slowly, Stevie begins to rebuild her life in this new family of sorts. The people around her are open to loving and including her in their lives, and she begins to open up, too, even towards a grandfather who is the opposite of warm and huggy. It’s not just the garden that begins to bloom – Stevie and everyone around her do, too. Nicely done.
Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt