Truly Lovejoy has grown accustomed to standing out in a crowd. Even in the big state of Texas, a twelve-year-old girl who is nearly six feet tall has a hard time maintaining “stealth mode”. After her father returns from Afghanistan with a prosthetic arm, he has difficulty finding work. Thus, the Lovejoy family moves to Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire to take over her grandparent’s bookstore with Truly’s somewhat eccentric “Aunt True”.
Pumpkin Falls couldn’t be any more different from the town in Texas where the Lovejoys lived minutes away from Truly’s cousin and best friend, Mackenzie. There is nothing to do in this small town where everyone knows everything about you. Still, shy Truly has no trouble making friends. When she puts the class clown in his place, the girls in her grade take a liking to her, and she is able to let her guard down. If only things were more peaceful at home. Adjusting to life back home has not been easy for her father, particularly when he discovers that Lovejoy’s Books is in serious financial trouble.
The family believes the sale of a signed copy of Charlotte”s Web that Truly finds in the store will alleviate their problems. Their hopes are dashed when the book is stolen. Truly is determined to find the thief, but is sidetracked by a mysterious note she found in the book. In the course of following hidden clues, Truly learns a lot about Pumpkin Falls and its residents and discovers that maybe this New England town is not such a bad place to live after all.
Middle grade girls will thoroughly enjoy this first “Pumpkin Falls Mystery”. Truly is a loveable young girl whose affection for her family is genuine and refreshing. As the middle of five children, she feels that she is often forgotten. In reality, however, she has a special relationship with each of her family members. She develops a friendship with her mother while her father is at war. She admires both of her older brothers, but has a particularly close relationship with fun-loving fourteen-year-old Hatcher, her biggest fan. She takes her responsibility as an older sister to Lauren and Pippa and as Aunt True’s bookstore assistant quite seriously. She even shares bird-watching with her grandfather.
Most importantly, though, is the love she maintains for her father. Her desire for his affirmation never dims. She does not forget the happy person he was before the war and firmly believes that deep down he still takes pride in his large family. As the Lovejoy household rallies to support him, her loyalty is rewarded.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is a full-time wife and mother living in Ridgewood, NJ.