Truly Lovejoy has two things working against her: she’s super tall, and her name. Neither of these things help you when you are in the seventh grade and switching schools smack dab in the middle of the year. Worse still when you are moving into a small town where everybody knows everybody and it is Absolutely Truly impossible to hide. But finding a note written in secret code inside a signed copy of Charlotte’s Web brings together an odd lot of friends.
Oh gosh. You should read this book.
Ha ha. Seriously. This is a really great book. And I used the right adverbs to prove it, right?
When we first meet Truly Lovejoy she is hanging upside down from a bell tower in the small town of Pumpkin Falls. But we leave her there, literally hanging, and come to know her better. We learn that she is abnormally tall for her age, and that she is new to Pumpkin Falls. We learn that she is the daughter of a wounded vet. We learn that she is oddly shy and uncomfortable in her own skin, not unlike other seventh grade girls at all. Of course, she feels like she is completely different than other seventh grade kids – which is also so very seventh grade, no?
Her family isn’t perfect. Her father, a retired Army helicopter pilot, lost his arm in the Afghanistan war. And when he lost his arm, he lost his dream of becoming a pilot in the civilian world as well. His adjustment to this is seen through the eyes of 12 year old Truly. She sees her “new father” and his moroseness, his detachment, his depression and she must deal with it, too. It was this part of the story, this backdrop to the entire story, that struck me as especially poignant and relevant. I don’t know of many stories that deal with this very current issue – especially for this age level – and yet, how many vets do we have since since our entrance into war in 2001? And how many of them are wounded if not physically, then emotionally? And how must the children in these families struggle?
I can’t state enough how well I think Heather Vogel Frederick deals with this issue in Absolutely Truly. Realistic sensitivity in an age appropriate manner.
But back to the main character of the book. Truly Lovejoy. Like I mentioned above, she is in seventh grade and awkwardly different. Which makes her just like every other seventh grade kid on the planet and thus, totally relatable. There is a tinge of shy romance going on throughout the book, but blink and you’ll miss it. Romance isn’t center stage here.
What is center stage is that everyone must be themselves. Colonel Lovejoy isn’t his arm. And Truly Lovejoy isn’t her height. But they are people, with a family who loves them and great friends besides. And maybe that is the underlying mystery in this book.
That while we set off searching for love hastily scribbled onto a note and shoved inside a book, we find we had it along right beside us and surrounding us.
One last note. I’m sorry if I’ve somehow made this book sound morose and sorrowful and a killjoy. It isn’t at all. In fact, I think that’s a huge reason I can gush about it so easily. The book flows both in prose and plot. It’s realistically funny and entertaining.
And I think – I hope – it’s the first in a new series by Heather Vogel Frederick.
What You Need to Know
- Role Models/Authority Figures – everywhere. Responsible, realistic adults.
- Violence – Truly nearly drowns in an icy river. But nothing age inappropriate here.
- Language – Nothing offensive
- Sexual Content – A little bit of a hint of romance
- Consumerism – Charlottes Web, Pride and Prejudice, Cinderella, and a host of other good book suggestions.
- Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – no
- Religion – Truly’s parents don’t go to church – though her grandparents always made her go when she visited.
- Other – Edgar Award Finalist