Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley

FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY
  
Genres: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

Scroll down for the giveaway!
After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme's been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.

Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

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PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:
Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to...A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” -- School Library Journal

Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” -- Booklist

Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection
I love reading middle grade fiction, so when the chance to read and review Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley came up, I jumped at the chance! I was really glad I got a chance to read Finding Esme because it was such an amazing book!

Esme is a 12 year old girl growing up in the 1970's. Her home life isn't very traditional. Her dad is out somewhere being a wanderer, and her mom is too busy worrying about her dad to look after Esme. The only person that really looks after Esme is her grandma Bee. When Esme finds dinosaur bones (which she'd like to keep secret) on a hill by her house, things start changing for Esme. 

I really loved the plot of Finding Esme. There is a touch of magical realism within this book that written very well. Esme and her grandmother have certain gifts. They can find lost things and/or people usually. There's also sightings of ghosts although not spooky ghostly sightings. Suzanne Crowley does such a fantastic job of making the magical realism element seem like it's an every day happening in real life. She also does a fantastic job with Esme's dealing of loss and just with the whole plot overall. Although Finding Esme does start out a bit slow, as well as a bit confusing with a bunch of different names, it quickly picks up the pacing. Also, it because clear which character is which quickly. The wording may be confusing for some as it's written in semi-heavy Texas twang and slang throughout. However, context clues help. It was easyish for me to understand being as I was born and raised in Texas. 

I must gush now on the characters found in Finding Esme! They were all so fleshed out and felt like they were actual people I was reading about instead of just being fictitious characters. Bee, Esme's grandmother, was probably my favorite character because I loved her no-nonsense approach to things. June Rain was always in la la land since her husband was always up and missing. My heart ached for her, but at the same time, I was angry with her for not paying more attention to her children, Esme and Bo. Sweetmaw was another great character, and I loved her for watching out for Esme when Esme felt she had no one. Finch, Esme's best friend, cared for Esme very much, and it was obvious throughout the novel. He only wanted what was best for Esme even if she had a hard time figuring that out. I loved little Bo, Esme's younger brother. I can't remember if Bo's age is ever mentioned in Finding Esme. I guessed Bo to be around 7 or so based on how he acted. Esme was a fantastically written main character. I could relate to her on so many levels especially when it came to not feeling loved or wanted. I'm sure we've all felt like this at some point in our lives. Esme was wanting to keep her dinosaur bones (which she endearingly refers to as Louella Goodbones) secret just so she could have at least one thing that was just hers. I was angered when her secret bones were no longer her secret (not a spoiler). I just wanted to hug Esme to let her know that she wasn't alone. She seemed like such a sweet girl who had already had to put up with more things than most children her age.

One main thing I feel that I must mention is this is Finding Esme is listed as being a middle grade book. I guess this is because the main character is 12 years old. I felt like this wasn't a typical middle grade read as it lacks a middle grade feel. The wording and narrative seemed to be written towards more of an older audience especially with mentions of things that happened in the past that a middle grade audience may not know about or understand. I feel like Finding Esme would probably go over most middle grader's head with the language and events that happened. Even though Esme is only 12, I feel like adults would enjoy this more or at least a young adult audience.

Trigger warnings for Finding Esme include death, depression, gun violence (although not graphic),  an absent father, and profanity (although it was just the word damnation used once).

Overall, Finding Esme is a fantastical read which will tug at your heartstrings and leave you breathless. It's a quick read that you won't want to put down. At least, I didn't! I never wanted it to end if I'm being honest. I would definitely recommend Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley to those aged 15+. Yes, it's supposed to be a middle grade read, but as I mentioned before, I really think adults and possibly teens would enjoy it more.
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(A special thank you to Suzanne Crowley for sending me a hardcover of Finding Esme in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)

Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.

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GIVEAWAY:
TWO READERS EACH WIN A SIGNED COPY OF FINDING ESME, TWO CANDLES, BOOKMARKS, FUN FACT CARDS, AND A PEN!
February 11-21, 2020
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