ARC Book Review: The Perfect Place by Teresa E. Harris

theperfectplace

Treasure’s dad has disappeared without a trace, and her mother is on the hunt for her husband, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister Tiffany with Great Aunt Grace. GAG is a terrible cook, obsessive smoker, and permanently in a foul mood. When the girls’ hope of finding their dad dwindle, they learn to live with Great Aunt Grace and adjusting to the new country town becomes inevitable.

I would not call this book young adult. It’s definitely smack in the middle of middle grade. The main character is only 12, and she’s not hanging around with teenagers, either. It’s just her and her little sister along with grouchy old people and other kids. Middle grade.

The book is pretty realistic, though. It’s about a family who moves around a lot and isn’t doing too well. Her dad leaves them, and her mom is stuck with two kids and no money for rent. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the mother drops her kids off at her aunt’s house with the intent of finding her husband and bringing him back. To me, this is a pretty stupid decision. I’d accept he was gone for good, put on my big girl shoes, and look for a steady job and affordable house for my girls. But that stupid decision makes it more real. Treasure’s mom has no idea what to do; the kids love their dad and never would have accepted his disappearance. The whole plot is painfully real, and I’m sure there are many kids who can relate to problems like this.

The characters and their relationships make the novel come alive. Treasure is sassy and feeling hurt, and she takes her pain out on her great aunt finding every little thing she does wrong. Dialogue is really hard to make realistic, but the author writes conversations that the reader can practically hear coming out of someone’s mouth.

I think the book blurb gives too much information away, but I guess it isn’t supposed to be a mystery or anything. Her dad leaves and never comes back. I, truthfully, didn’t read the whole blurb, so the mystery stayed with me throughout the novel. The book focuses more on how the girls must adjust to their new lives, despite their reluctance at first.

The themes in the book involve letting people go, making changes, and sticking to decisions. Treasure, Tiffany, and their mother must face the fact that their dad is never coming back, and they must move on. It may be hard, but moving around to his whims all the time wasn’t good for them, either. The family must make changes to accommodate their new lives with their aunt in this new setting where they actually plan to stay instead of just leaving when times get rough.

The book holds a lot of lessons and wisdom for children between the sassy narrator and funny adventures that the girls have with their Great Aunt Grace. While its not the most exciting and does have some parts that drag, I enjoyed reading it. I don’t think its a universal book, though. The target audience is children, and they’d like it much more than I did.

3 Stars

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