by Paul Fleischman
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Format: Paperback (102 pages)
A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
Thirteen very different voices and perspectives—old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful—tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.
This very short novel is a beautiful story about what it means to be a community and how a community comes from having something in common – even if it’s as small as a garden. Each chapter has a different character and a different point of view about this community garden which made it feel more like a short story collection instead of a novel. I enjoyed reading it in that format since it gave me a chance to see the garden in so many unique and interesting ways. The cast of diverse and interesting characters was delightful. One of my favorite characters was the old lady who kept drinking a tea made from flowers and her doctors told her not to. She outlived all those doctors and would say their names like a “chapter in Genesis.” I just love that!
When we discussed this book in book club, we wondered who the main character was since it was told from so many points of view. I liked my friends idea that the garden was the main character since it changed and grew the most. I also liked where the term “seedfolks” came from. One of the characters talks about her ancestors who were the first black family in Colorado and she thought of them as her “seedfolk” since they planted their roots there for her. This was a cute story about community and how we have more in common than we think.
Content Rating: Mild. It was a clean read and appropriate for a young middle grade audience.
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