Henkes, Kevin. Sweeping Up the Heart. Fiction. Greenwillow, 03/2019. 183pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-285254-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-7.
It’s 1999, and 12-year-old Amelia is frustrated by her rigid single father’s reluctance to seek any sort of adventure and leave the town where they live. Amelia has “gingery” hair, and all characters present as white in their Wisconsin town. Henkes has used a spare, clear narrative style to create a beautifully written story (which takes place over the course of a week) about self-identity, secrets, transitions, and possibility. The plot is brief and contained, as characters in this well-developed story don’t need to do much for the story to move forward, but it still maintains a philosophical bent and a deep emotional pull. It’s hard to be 12, and it’s clear that Henkes is able to tap into that difficulty in a way few authors before him have been successful in conveying.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School