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Love, Ish by Karen Rivers
Age Range: 9 – 13 years | Grade Level: 4 – 8 | Hardcover: 288 pages | Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (March 14, 2017)
Excuse me for a moment while I bawl my eyes out. 😢
Okay, I’m back and now we can talk about the book.
I went into this story blind—I didn’t know anything about it except that the main character wants to go to Mars. So, I was completely unprepared for all the feels I felt! If I had read the synopsis, at least I could have kept a box of tissues handy. Instead, I spent a sunny afternoon sobbing on my back porch.
There are so many things to love about Love, Ish and the way Karen Rivers writes it. The main character, Ish, isn’t a perfect girl. In fact, she’s pretty imperfect. She has bucketloads of “attitude” to spare and she doesn’t relate well to other kids her age (or anyone, really). All her problems come into sharp focus when she receives a life-changing diagnosis.
Even though Ish is a tough nut, she’s a lovable character. I loved that she was able to open up to a couple of people and figure things out. The inclusion of an LGBTQ character in the story adds some diversity without distracting from the main focus of the book.
If I’m being honest, some parts of the book dragged on too long. While I loved the writing, some parts were too…poetic (?) and I got lost in the metaphors.
However, this story is about self-discovery, love, friendship, grief, and dealing with the crushing trials that come with life. It’s a heartfelt and heart-wrenching story that ventures down a path most middle-grade novels avoid.
I would recommend this book for kids ages 9+ that can handle sad but meaningful stories.
Cover Talk: I LOVE this cover. It’s a perfect reflection of the story and a good introduction to Ish and her big, impossible dreams. I really like the stylized illustrations and the way Ish is looking off into space, toward Mars. The colors are beautiful, too. The cover gives you a feel for the story—like it’s larger than life and sad at the same time.
Content: Clean, but sad.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
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Other Books by Karen Rivers
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