Book Review: See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

 “I breath in and out through my mouth to feel the quiet. In. Out. Over and over. Until I fall asleep.”

― Jo Knowles, See You at Harry's

The middle-grade young adult book See You at Harry's is written by Jo Knowles. It is a coming-of-age narrative coping with an inconceivable catastrophe, as told by 12-year-old Fern. Several of Knowles' famous young adult novels feature a variety of difficulties, including pregnancy, abuse, and more. See You at Harry's breaks new ground by balancing the main theme of the novel with issues that commonly plague teenagers such as bullying, sexuality and first loves.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

My reaction to this novel...

I prepared myself for tears before starting any family-related books. I only read it when I feel like reading that type of content as a result. Simply browsing my library of ebooks is how I came upon it. Actually, I'd downloaded it a long time ago but hadn't read it; when I got the chance, I did and read it in three days. By accident, I had read the Goodreads reviews, which provided me with information about the story.

The storyline of this novel is one that I've read several times before. The antagonist and primary characters of this book, Fern and Charlie, are originally established to me. The narrative is melancholy since it discusses the loss of a family member, a subject that is very dreadful to everyone. The novel has a certain allure. It is easy to read. No pretentious terminology. The only aspect I found unpleasant was Fern's personality, specifically how she treats her younger brother Charlie. It is a little bothersome, but maybe this is just the way adolescents are. This narrative will help you comprehend how it could feel to lose a family member and not have the opportunity to express your love and concern for them. That you cannot reverse everything you have done to them may it be good or bad.

Actually, I'm a cry baby and cry when I read emotionally charged books. My tears did not, however, flow, and there were times I wished I could skip some pages because I felt the author focused too much on other incidents that, in my opinion, should have been prevented. In any case, it's a pleasant read overall. You'll comprehend how one family coped with bereavement and how it affected their struggles. You can actually sense the characters' suffering and agony.

The narrative of this book is quite sad, and I think some individuals may have cried as a result, so readers should be prepared. Just be ready for who you could run into at Harry's.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨(3.5/5)

"All will be well, all will be well. I started to believe them, but the whole thing was a scam. It was just some stupid thing to say to make me believe life isn't unfair. And just when I thought life was perfect, it became unbearable again.”

When we were younger, my experience was that whether I was upset, in uncertainty, or in danger, our family and even friends would keep reminding me that everything will be OK. Actually, I am guilty of using those phrases frequently whenever I see my friend battling with challenges. In addition to offering a helping hand, we are also giving them advice by using phrases like these. We didn't know what impact it would have on them. I acknowledge that unfairness is constant in life, but I also believe that good words may soothe a hurting soul, offer some individuals a chance to recover, and help them move on.

"Love doesn’t die. No. Love never dies.”

I concur with this proverb on love. Love endures forever. Love is always there, even if the person we love leaves us. After some time, everything will get silent, yet love will always be in your heart. You'll sense that the emotions are fading gradually, but there will also be occasions when it floods your heart with memories of earlier sentiments, even simply hearing their names. 


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