Sweeping Up the Heart

by Kevin Henkes

Seventh grader Amelia, resigned to staying in Madison over spring break, plans to... read more

Seventh grader Amelia, resigned to staying in Madison over spring break, plans to spend time at the ceramic studio in her neighborhood to work on a project. She’s initially unsettled by the presence of Casey, the owner’s nephew, a talkative boy her age staying with his aunt while his parents address problems with their marriage, but they bond making up stories about people passing by during lunch. Casey suggests one woman could be like an incarnation of Amelia’s mother, who died when she was two. It leaves Amelia uneasy. Not only does the woman resemble Amelia, but Amelia keeps noticing her around the neighborhood. Once she even sees the woman with her dad. Amelia, who is white, begins to wonder if it might not be her mother. There is nothing supernatural in this story, only a strong, quiet undercurrent of feeling and a deft, beautifully realized understanding of what it is to be a thoughtful, imaginative child for whom the impossible seems almost within reach. Amelia’s emotionally distant father, the loving older neighbor who’s helped care for her, and Casey are among other finely drawn, singular characters in a story that has both weight and lightness, especially as Amelia’s relationship with her father—and his with her—begins to open and change. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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