Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Everyone deals with loss eventually, but in Melissa Savage’s debut novel, Lemons, Lemonade Liberty Witt experiences it much sooner than she expected.

At ten-and-three-quarters Lemonade loses her mother to cancer, and her home when she is taken to live with Charlie – the grieving grandfather she never knew she had. Charlie’s town in the northern rim of California is known for one thing: Bigfoot. One believer, Tobin Sky, is the founding member Bigfoot Detectives Inc. but with his dad MIA after Vietnam, he has more than Sasquatch to hope for. By the end of summer, all three might just learn to smile again as they share in one epic Bigfoot Adventure.

IS IT WORTH THE READ?

Three weeks ago, as I wrapped up my last Scholastic Book Fair, this book caught my eye across the decked-out gymnasium. As the granddaughter of a deep-seated Bigfoot believer, I can never resist a good Sasquatch Story and immediately put the book on the top of my growing “buy later” pile. It has gone everywhere with me since! (And that means priority packing in a cross-the-state-line-move.)

Melissa Savage’s debut novel is full of emotional realism, mythological whimsy, and practical wisdom for children and their caretakers dealing with painful loss. Delivering Lemonade’s story through the buffer of summertime adventures gives the reader an anchoring point to the deeper message without being weighed down completely by the character’s heartbreaking circumstance.

Lemonade herself, as has come to be expected of literary red-heads, is spunky and willful. For all her heroine’s strength though, Savage still gives plenty of light to Lemonade’s weakness and over all healing arc. True to the author’s background as a family therapist, Lemons is primarily a story about acceptance and healing.

However, several times throughout the novel Charlie or another adult, such as Mrs. Dickerson or Debbie Sky, step awkwardly outside of their characteristics to deliver a thick cut of therapeutic wisdom. While contrived to lend emotional guidance to young readers, these moments jolted me unexpectedly out of the story’s natural flow.

Out of five, I give Lemons three stars. The plot itself is weakened by relatively flat side characters and a plot length past what the average target age of 7-11 might read. Still, the book was charming and worth consideration as a read-along for anyone working with children who may relate to Lemonade.

WHAT NEXT?

Here you can download a lightweight discussion guide for Lemons, as well as a few activity suggestions for a more hands-on experience.

If you’re looking for similar reads, follow the links below for three suggestions:

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Happy Reading!
– Bekah


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