Haydu, Corey Ann. Someday Suitcase, The. Fiction. K. Tegen/HarperCollins, 06/2017. 298pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-235275-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-7.
Floridian fifth graders Clover and Danny are completely in tune, super-best friends, so when Danny becomes mysteriously ill, causing him to be unable to hang out and to miss a bunch of school, Clover starts to question who she is without her symbiotic other. For her school science fair, Clover decides that her project will be on Danny and an attempt to figure out what is ailing him, and then hatches a plan to get Danny to a new-agey clinic in Vermont that treated a classmate’s mother. Haydu’s follow-up to the exceptional Rules for Stealing Stars (2015) similarly doesn’t pull punches when it comes to heavy emotional situations but, rather, fully embraces them with a visceral, kick-in-the-gut reality. Her continual integration of science into the narrative—what it is, and what it means to be a scientist—keeps readers questioning what they know. Could Clover’s presence alone be helping Danny to feel better? Clover’s never-waning devotion to her best friend is fully explored, with Clover even beginning to feel guilty for making a couple of new friends, and a depiction of a home life where she has to deal with a little brother who is on the autism spectrum and a truck driving father, who is frequently away, add further character depth. With a hint of magical realism, this is an examination of the line between where science ends and magic begins, positing that magic may just be science that we don’t yet understand.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library