Sarah's Stars

Ann Hood. How I Saved My Father's Life (and Ruined Everything Else)
Scholastic  $19.99  ISBN 978-0-439-92819-9  218 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 14

Right away I saw it had been a mistake to bring my mother. For one thing, she wore a suit, the kind of thing she wore to meetings with editors. For another, she had brought asparagus with toasted sesame oil. I looked at her standing there in her business clothes, holding the pottery dish with the scrawny asparagus in it, and I wanted to disappear. Better yet, I wanted her to disappear.

After Madeline's father divorces her mother, her life starts to fall apart. Her mother keeps busy with her job of creating recipes for a family magazine, yet breaks down crying at other times. Her little brother Cody is terrified of everything, even air bags. And when her mother moves them from their old home in Boston to Providence, away from Madeline's beloved ballet school, Madeline begins to nurse a growing hatred for her mother, while her glamorous step-mother Ava begins to seem more and more appealing. When Madeline decides that she can perform miracles after praying for her father to be kept safe from an avalanche, before she even knows about the crisis, she decides that, what if for one summer, Madeline can perform yet another miracle, a seemingly impossible miracle that will elevate her to sainthood? What if she can bring her family back together? So begins the zany story of a magical summer featuring the churches of Italy, some strange new friends and a lovable, broken family.

The cover art for this novel is very misleading. It is cute and girly and it makes the novel seem as if it will be nothing more than distracting fluff. It's not a completely depressing, serious book though. It's quirky and fun and pretty simple, but it's not fluff. It's quite out of the ordinary for a book of its genre. Madeline's obsession with saints and sainthoods is definitely an original characteristic and her family manages to be a cast of three-dimensional characters without becoming overly complicated. Some things could have been developed a little bit further, such as the whole sub-plot with Antoinette's father and her apparent "miracles" but other than that, How I Saved My Father's Life will certainly please readers between the ages of 11-15 with its relatable characters and storyline and interesting predicaments.

I give How I Saved My Father's Life four stars.


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