Saturday, April 29, 2017

Distiller: Doni Faber
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Drink: Lemonade (sorry, just too perfect)

by Melissa Savage
Crown Books for Young Readers
May 2, 2017
(308 pages)

Her mother named her Lemonade so that she would always remember to make lemonade out of the lemons life might give her. But now she's been given the biggest lemon of all. Her mother died. And she feels more like a volcano about to explode than a sweetly sour drink.

Her grandfather takes custody of her. She is a city girl re-located to the country. Where Bigfoot is a big thing. She meets Tobin, who immediately makes her an assistant to his Bigfoot Detectives Inc. Together, they share the search for this illusive creature.

I have to admit, the idea of a story about Bigfoot didn't appeal to me much at first. But it's not really about Bigfoot. It's about loss. And ways to find new places to fill in that loss. It's about sharing someone else's passion in order to support that person in friendship.

Tobin needs Bigfoot. Lemon needs Tobin.

Tobin is likely autistic: the way that he obsesses over one thing, the way that he has to everything on the desk just so, the way that he takes figurative language so literally. But the book never out and out says that. Instead, his obsession with Bigfoot can softly let us into that insight without diagnosing him. Because diagnosing him isn't understanding or appreciating him.

The characters are real from the get-go. Lemonade goes along with Tobin accompanied by all the eye-rolling that one would expect of a eleven-year-old.

The author wrote this book in part to memorialize the death of her 9-month-old son. I thought she did an amazing job of lifting the narrative away from the immediacy of her experience and breathing in life to fictional characters. This is a difficult task to do, and she did it well.

One of the most potent lines of the book is: "The most important thing to remember is to have gratitude for those who love and those who love us. Even if it's not for the amount of time we expected or wished for. If you don't, you can be washed away by the sadness." I also really liked the detail of one of the characters taking her coffee: "Decaf, with more cream than coffee and two teaspoons of sugar," because it meant that Lemonade had gotten to know and care about her enough to notice that much detail in her habits.

Perfect book if you're looking for a little bit of hope amidst life's lemons.

*Free copy given in exchange for honest review


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