Friday, May 30, 2014

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

At first, this book seems like a typical coming of age story. Maggie Mayfield deals with the usual classroom dramas and social awkwardness of fifth grade. But we soon find out that Maggie is dealing with a difficult situation at home. Her father, with whom she shares an especially close relationship, suffers from a debilitating illness, which as the book goes on, we discover is multiple sclerosis. As the story unfolds, we share Maggie's journey from at first believing that her father will recover from his disability to realizing that he will most likely become progressively more debilitated. Along the way, Maggie's focus shifts from "fixing" her father to learning to accept her family the way it is and that being "brave" is continuing to live life to the fullest even when conditions are difficult.

The beauty of this story is how Maggie, through the course of the novel, goes from seeing her family through a child's eyes to the more mature realization that no family is perfect and that each member must contribute however they can to support the whole.

It's no surprise that this novel is semi-autobiographical, with the author herself having been the child of a parent with a chronic illness, since Maggie's voice rings especially true throughout. There are a few slightly disturbing scenes of Maggie and her sisters being alone with her father while he has a health crisis, that may be disturbing to younger readers. Overall, a great coming of age story about dealing with a family crisis. 2014.


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