THINGS THAT GROW, by Meredith Goldstein, HMH Books for Young Readers, March 9, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
A young woman comes to term with her grandmother’s death in Meredith Goldstein’s Things That Grow.
When Lori’s Dorothy Parker–loving grandmother dies, Lori’s world is turned upside down. Grandma Sheryl was everything to Lori — and not just because Sheryl raised Lori when Lori’s mom got a job out of town. Now Lori’s mom is insisting on moving her away from her beloved Boston right before senior year. Desperate to stay for as long as possible, Lori insists on honoring her grandmother’s last request before she moves: to scatter Sheryl’s ashes near things that grow.
Along with her uncle Seth and Chris, best friend and love-of-her-life crush, Lori sets off on a road trip to visit her grandmother’s favorite gardens. Dodging forest bathers, scandalized volunteers, and angry homeowners, they come to terms with the shape of life after Grandma Sheryl. Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but Lori might just find a way to move forward surrounded by the people she loves. —Synopsis provided by HMH Books for Young Readers
Things That Grow is a sophisticated read that will appeal to young adults as well as “grownups.”
At first, the premise of Things That Grow sounds rather depressing, and there are some hard moments, but it’s also filled with light and hope. And Meredith Goldstein’s wry humor is a fantastic juxtaposition, adding emphasis where needed.
Scattering her grandmother’s remains is life changing for Lori. She’s on the cusp of adulthood, and that comes with its own complexities. She’s a bold character who thinks she knows what she wants, thinks she has everything figured out. Following her as she realizes that’s not the case, is a rewarding journey.
Things That Grow caught my attention from the start. Goldstein opens with the family visit to the funeral home, and boy, was that spot on. It reminded me of planning my mother’s funeral. Everything from the shopping for coffins to the description of cremains felt exactly right. The grief mixed with disbelief and the sort of tackiness that comes with putting a price on a loved one’s death was all there. This sort of setup could be difficult reading for someone in the throes of grief, but as someone a few steps removed, I was hooked.
Some of the loveliest moments in Thing That Grow are those that take place in the garden. Watching things grow is often healing. And the settings within each individual garden emulated different feelings and emotional stages.
Things That Grow is a story of love and reflection. There are a number of excellent YA books that deal with grief and this is a strong addition.
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