Lemon Drop Falls is realistic, relatable, and beautifully written middle grade contemporary with theme of loss and grief.
Lemon Drop Falls by Heather Clark
Publication Date : February 15th 2022
Publisher : Jolly Fish Press
Genre : Middle Grade contemporary
Pages : 280
Disclaimer- Many thanks to publisher for providing e-copy via NetGalley.
Brave the sour to taste the sweet.
Morgan is devastated by her mother’s sudden death. Before, Mom’s amazing organizational skills kept the family on track, and her bowl of lemon drops was always on hand to make difficult conversations easy, turning life’s sour into sweet. After, there’s no one to help Morgan navigate her new role caring for her younger siblings, her worries about starting junior high, and her increasingly confusing friendships. All she can do is try to fulfill her mother’s final request: Keep them safe, Morgan. Be brave for them. Help them be happy.
When Dad insists on taking the family on their regular summer camping trip, and Morgan’s efforts to keep her promise to Mom seem doomed to fail, Morgan’s anxiety spirals into a panic attack, and Dad treats her like she’s impossibly broken. Unable to share her fears and needs with Dad, and desperate to prove she’s got the strength to hold the family together, Morgan sets off alone to hike a flooding canyon trail. But somewhere on that lonely and dangerous journey, Morgan will encounter the truth about the final words her mother left her, the power in finding her own voice, and the possibility of new beginnings.
Lemon Drop Falls is touching and moving middle grade fiction that revolves around 12 yrs old Morgan learning to live life after her mother’s death. The story is about coping with loss and grief, new transition in life, friendship, anxiety, family, and hope.
Writing is beautiful, emotive, and steady paced. The story is written in first person narrative from Morgan’s POV with ‘After’ and ‘Before’ chapters which works really well telling readers how Morgan’s life was with her mother and how her mother’s death changed her and her life. It made Morgan’s voice more realistic and easy to root for. Setting of Capital Reef and hiking trails is amazing and vividly written.
Story started with after chapter, how Morgan is managing her life and her siblings after her mother’s death, compromises she makes to keep her promise with her mother, ‘be brave and keep and family happy’. It isn’t easy for her with loss of mother, problems with her best friends that drifted them apart, boy problem, dad who kind of lived in fog of his own grief and now only breadwinner to whom she cannot share her feelings. But when after few months when her father takes family on their regular summer camping trip to Capital Reef, all Morgan’s efforts to keep her promise with her mother seem to fall apart.
It was interesting to read what happened with her best friends, why they are not there to support her, why her father insisted on family camping all of sudden, why she stopped talking about her feelings with him, what made her go on a hike alone, and how the trail will change her.
Every aspect of this book is so well written. This is mainly character driven story but there is so much in the story. All characters are realistic and relatable. I loved the way the author gave them all depth and layers. They all acted as per their age, they all struggled through things that happen at a certain age along with the drastic change that comes with loss of loved ones.
Morgan is amazing main character with anxiety and often have panic attacks. She is brave, loyal, lovely, and strong charatcer. I loved seeing how she handled her siblings alone at home, understood her father’s late arrival at home, kept dinner ready and house clean, compromised soccer that she loved by not going to tryouts that was just after her mother’s death and at the same time hurting so much with loss of mother and also possible end of the friendship.
I could understand her feelings, how it feels when friendship drifts apart and on top of all her constant fear she might fail to keep promise to her mother. It sure is a lot for 12 yr old with so much responsibilities that a fully functioning adult often struggles and fails to handle. Before chapters gave her character more depth and loved how she learn to deal with all problems in her life during her hike, learned to share her feelings again with her father, understood that her mom still lives within her and her family, and took one step after another towards happiness and love.
I loved knowing Mongan’s mother, her ABC planning that kept her work and life organized with three kids, and her lemon drops talk time which is a fantastic idea to discuss things with family, let out all feelings and help the family deal with whatever problem they face. She was amazing and I also loved what she said about her plans in climax and I totally agree with her.
I liked how through Morgan’s best friends- Keilani and Hrishi, author talked about the transition to junior high and discussed things like- shift from training bras to actual bra, body growth, new friend trying to enter the close-knit circle of best friends and how that bring jealousy and shift in friendship, crush and boy problem.
I enjoyed reading about Morgan’s younger siblings who miss their mother and don’t like elder sister trying to take control of things that so far their mother did and yet they have their innocence, fun, and adventure like kids at their age who don’t dwell on loss even though they feel it.
I loved Morgan’s father. He is very different from her mother. I could understand him most maybe as a parent. I could see how difficult it might be to juggle things and keep his family together and financially stable alone with guilt of not having enough time for kids who lost their mother. I loved the way he shook off the grief, took step to unburden Morgan, found a way to take step forward and how he tried to talk about his wife with his kids during their camping. It was interesting to read his perspective in last few chapters.
Tone of the story is heavy and serious because of its theme and plot. There are only few lighter moments but author kept the main plot in center which didn’t exactly give enough breathing space from the heaviness but I think I wouldn’t change that as it also made story realistic and relatable.
Climax is fantastic with Morgan discovering different side of her mother she didn’t know and how that helped her getting over grief and idea of failing to keep her promise with her mother. I loved the message from the story in this part about life’s uncertainty, things about planning, how if one plan fails take the fall and rebounce to new plan in life, sharing feelings with loved ones, forgiveness and adjust with changes in life and sit back to see how it’s taking shape. Morgan’s talk with her father just before end brought tears in my eyes. It is my most favorite moment in entire book.
End is perfect. It doesn’t promise the entire happiness which one can never have with loss of loved ones but shows to take one step after another towards happiness and live life filling the gap left by loss with memories and loved ones still around.
Overall, Lemon Drop Falls is touching, sensitive, realistic, relatable, and beautifully written middle grade fiction.
I highly recommend this if you like,
story about loss and grief
character dealing with anxiety
vulnerable adults in middle grade story
realistic and relatable situations
importance of discussing heavy topic and feelings
transition to junior high and what it means for person of this age
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