Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Touch Blue - for Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday was started over at Green Bean Teen Queen as away to highlight awesome books for the 9-12 yr olds or Tweens. Any book highlighted on Tween Tuesday also counts for the In the Middle Reading Challenge! This week's book is:

Lord, Cynthia. Touch Blue. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9923239]

Losing a best friend can feel like losing the whole world, even though you're not. But when Tess's best friend Amy moves off the tiny island they called home Tess and the rest of the kids on the island really do almost lose it all. Without Amy and her four siblings, the state of Maine cannot justify keeping the island school open and Tess's mom employed as the teacher. With no school and no job for her mother, Tess, her little sister Libby, and their parents will have to move to the mainland. Then the Reverend comes up with a plan to save the school: bring five foster kids to the island, enough to keep the school open. So Tess's family, along with a few others on the island, makes room in their home and their lives for a foster child, Aaron. He'll get a home with a real family, and they'll get to stay on the island. The island families will be getting what they want and helping others in the process, and there's no rule against that, is there?

Tess certainly has a lot of worries. Not only has her best friend leaving left her without a companion all summer (and we won't even talk about how Amy's letters to Tess have become less and less frequent), but it could cause her to lose her whole life as she knows it. And Tess cannot have that. She's happy on the island, loves being able to see the ocean all around her. She loves going lobstering with her father all summer long, and she loves going to school in a one-room schoolhouse with every other kid on the island. Losing all of that to move to a landlocked town where all the kids already know each other and don't need a lobster girl for a friend would be devastating.

Tess is all for the plan to save the school and is excited to have a foster kid stay with her family. She has read plenty of books about foster kids (apparently the state cannot afford to keep a one-room schoolhouse on this island, but a well-stocked library is no problem). In her mind, Aaron is the 12 year old boy version of Anne of Green Gables and she cannot wait to have a bosom friend again to run around the island with. As Aaron spends more time on the island, Tess has to admit that he is more Gilly Hopkins than Anne. Then, finally, she realizes that he isn't a character from a book (ha), but a kid who misses the life he left behind just as much as she would miss her island if she had to leave it.

Aaron and the other foster kids try to settle into life on the island, and Tess, her family, and the rest of the island start to accept the foster kids as their own. And somewhere along the way Aaron and Tess become friends. For so much of the book, Tess is grasping at straws with Aaron, afraid to offend him or trying to shield him from other people on the island, and Aaron is so stand-off-ish and hesitant to let Tess or her family in. Then they finally share a secret. He lets his guard down a little and she starts treating him like any other friend. I wanted SO BADLY for things to work out for them, even as I thought that their secret plan to make things right was a horrible idea. Lord has managed to create two compelling characters in a small amount of time, and she does it through, really, a series of tiffs and misunderstandings. The fact that these normal kids are in this bizarre situation where Tess's continued happiness requires that Aaron not attain what he dreams to be his (being reunited with his family and mainland life) makes it all the more interesting and complicated.

Still, in the end Touch Blue ends up being a sweet story about two kids dealing with BIG things like adults that let you down and situations that are beyond anyone's control. But it's also about lobsters, good luck charms, and a five year old sister who always wants to play Monopoly.

Touch Blue was released August 1st and is now available for purchase!

Book source: Picked up at ALA


GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I have a copy of this sitting in my TBR pile! I heard Cynthia Lord read from it at ALA and it peaked my interest-especially since I loved Rules.

Alison said...

Wow...this sounds like a GREAT book. I really want to check it out. Thanks for the review.

Tween Tuesday