Release Date: 8 May 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Interest/Reading Level: Grades 5 & up
Fern has always felt invisible, even at home with her family. Everyone at home has their own “thing,” from her mom’s meditation and her dad’s restaurant to her sister’s gap year and her brother’s not-so-secret secrets. Charlie, her younger brother, doesn’t help matters either as he’s the baby and the center of seemingly everyone’s world. When an accident rips Fern’s family apart at the seams, Fern struggles with her own grief and feelings of responsibility for the tragedy that has her family moving away from each other instead of together. Despite her friend Ran’s mantra of “All will be well,” Fern can’t fight the feelings that all will not be well ever again. See You At Harry’s tackles the topic of dealing with tragedy quite masterfully. Woven into the tragic story are common themes of adolescence, from starting middle school to bullying to finding yourself among your friends and family. Middle grade students dealing with the roller coaster of emotions that accompanies growing up and tragedy will find this book to be a perfect companion.
Jo Knowles has woven into her tragic story the story of a boy attempting to discover what it means to be gay and finding a way to deal with the bullying and emotions. He doesn’t realize that his whole family already knows that he’s gay (with the possible exception of his father) and they’re just waiting for him to talk to them about it. Holden’s personal struggles aren’t the focus of the story. Instead, Ms. Knowles has crafted him into the story as a relateable brother figure trying to find his own way alongside a family who is ready and willing to accept him as he is–he just doesn’t know it yet. See You At Harry’s would serve well as part of an LGBT History Month display or program, especially since it targets a slightly younger audience. The themes of acceptance are once again a prominent part of the story.