DIVORCE, that big scary word especially to those who are just discovering who they are. Julie Bowe has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of Wren Jo Byrd when her life changes dramatically over the summer due to the separation of her parents. Wren feels like her world has ended and it is so devastating to her that she doesn’t want anyone to know, especially her friends.
Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe.
Published by Penguin Young Readers.
Date: 21 March 2017
“Lots of thing have changed since my last first week of school…but all those changes seem little compared to the big change that happened over the summer. Dad moved out. When your parents decide to get a divorce, someone has to leave.”
To the child that is going through the same circumstance this part of the book would resonate with them because Julie Bowe has captured the feelings and questions, both Big & Little, that are trapped inside their minds buzzing, just as they are for Wren in this book.
With these changes, Wren is also trying to navigate friendships that have fallen away, a new nickname that doesn’t feel friendly and becoming friends with the bossy girl who has secrets of her own.
I am quite impressed with this book as I believe Julie Bowe has tackled a subject that is much more common than it used to be, although rarely discussed in the way that this book does. What this book does is focus on the child. I find Wren to be a delightful middle grader who other 8-12 year olds will relate to and her feelings are very real. In fact, I am sure we all recognise the following feeling at some point in our lives.
“No, I’m not Hungry,” I reply to my cat. “Yes, my stomach feels icky again.”
That dreaded sick feeling when something doesn’t feel right.
What I find impressive about this book is that it is realistic. The author hasn’t tried to get the parents back together at the end, not to say that the wrap up of the story isn’t positive but it is true to life making it even more relatable to the reader.
Throughout the book, Wren looks up words that she doesn’t know the meaning for, it is a good way for the reader to understand words that they also may not be familiar with. However, I found it disruptive to the story most of the time. In fact, even some of the definitions would still be hard for the 8-12 year old reader to understand.
Each character was a necessary component to the book and I feel like the character development is steady with each character complimentary to each other. From the annoying boys on the bus, to the new teacher Ms. Little, to Shakespeare the cat each had a place that helped shape Wren on her journey of understanding divorce.
I am hopeful that Wren’s bravery in asking questions will also encourage readers to ask questions during their times of uncertainty in life. In the words of Wren..
“Ms. Little says there’s no such thing as a silly question. I’m glad because I still have lots of questions to ask.”
The message I get from this book…don’t be afraid to be who you are, seek answers to your questions and know that you are not alone!
I received this book from the publisher Penguin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review.