Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? When one of Sara’s two moms wins a contest, the whole family packs up for a free month-long railroad trip. Twelve-year-old Sara is disappointed since this wrecks her plans to spend the summer working with her two best friends on a Reinvention Project to prepare for entering middle school. Each member of Sara’s family — moms, younger sister, older sister, and older sister’s boyfriend, has a distinct personality. The enforced togetherness in tiny train compartments and hotel rooms necessarily generates some friction. They travel with another family that also won the contest – a boy and his dad from Texas plus the boy’s grandmother and her best friend. The ride loosely follows the East Coast then over to New Orleans, then heads up to the Grand Canyon where the families endure a tragedy, and ends in California. If you enjoy the television show “Modern Family” in which family members try to make the right choices, sometimes make mistakes, but eventually find their way guided by their genuine love for each other, then you’ll love this story.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No.
To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to fourth to seventh grade readers that like realistic fiction.
Readalikes: Levy’s two previous books about the Family Fletcher.
Who should buy this book? Upper elementary libraries, middle school libraries and public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve with general fiction.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, but don’t be surprised if you want to hop on a train to visit all the places they go.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 7/11/17