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Ten-year-old fifth-grader Star Mackie has just moved into a California trailer park (right beside the dump) from Oregon with her mom and sister. The move has made it hard for her to make new friends, because her classmates tease her about her home and her "layered" dyed blue haircut. In order to help combat this Star decides to start up a new club, the first iteration is about trailer parks and then it morphs into a club dedicated to her newfound love of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Through this poetry, Star learns to accept herself, her family, the world around her, and come to terms with her hopes and dreams for the future.
I am very lucky to have found an ARC of this wonderfully optimistic and heartening story despite the realities of Star's home and school-life. Star has a big heart and is filled with all kinds of hopes and dreams, and like Kathi Appelt's blurb says I would like to be a part of her club. This is one of those stories that could easily attract readers of all ages, from upper elementary and middle school age following Star's struggles as the new kid, to teens invested in broody Winter's tale, adults watching the presentation of a single mom through Star's eyes, and anyone interested in poetry.
I enjoyed reading this story from Star's perspective. She has a distinct voice and a big heart (and, yes, I know I already said that, but it's worth saying again). It's really difficult not to fall in love with her character. I also enjoyed getting to know the members of her club, especially Eddie and Genny. They are real scene-stealers! I could honestly say if there was an adult or YA retelling of this story from either Carly or Winter's perspective I would read it in a heartbeat.
There are some pretty heavy moments in this story involving Star's family, but I don't want to spoil them if you haven't read it yet. There is a fantastic moment when the title really makes sense on page 124 of the ARC. I know you're not supposed to quote without comparing it to the finished copy, but I want to in order to give you an idea of what I mean, especially since the final came out about eight months ago now.
"...hope is a Ferris wheel, because you can be far away from something, really wanting it, and the wheel can bring you closer. And sometimes you can step right off, but sometimes the wheel doesn't stop spinning, and you keep moving around and around in a circle. But you never lose sight of what you want."
If that little snippet doesn't want you to invest some time in Robin Herrera's Hope is a Ferris Wheel, I'm not sure what will. I will most definitely be keeping my eyes open for more from Herrera in the future. I'm hoping this middle-grade novel will be nominated for the 2015 Newbery Medal.
Check out its wonderful book trailer:
I read this from November 16 - 18, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.