Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel
By Kimberly Willis Holt
Henry Holt and Company, 2017. Fiction.
Stevie, named after Stevie Nicks, is pretty happy with her life in Taos, New Mexico. She loves working in the garden with her parents and selling their flowers and herbs on the roadside stand they own. She is happy with her little family and glad to know that her parents are her best friends. All of that changes when a drunk driver kills Stevie's parents and she has to uproot her life and move to Little Esther, Texas to live with the grandfather she thought was dead. Stevie finds herself living at a rundown motel in a small town with no flowers, no parents, no public school, and Winston - a stodgy old man. As Stevie learns to flourish in her new environment, she also learns that there are some things about her family she never knew.
Stevie makes this book for me. The story is a pretty standard coming of age story about a girl who discovers herself and her family's secrets while with a grandparent who isn't what he appears to be. That being said, Stevie is a gentle, loving, kind character who shows that someone doesn't have to be flashy or showy to be brave. She is surrounded by a supporting cast of quirky, charming, small-town characters that help keep things interesting. What I loved about this book was the flower metaphor used throughout - I thought that it really worked, especially given Stevie's connection with flowers. This is a great fiction pick for kids on the older end of middle grade - Stevie is in eighth grade - who are looking for good characters and a little bit of romance.