Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Book Review Club (April 2022)

Welcome to the April 2022 edition of The Book Review Club. You are in for a treat! My little sister, Sheilagh, wrote today's review. That's her picture on the right.  Cute, eh? When she was a baby, I used to bring kids home from school to look at her. :) Under her review are links to everyone else's reviews. Enjoy!

 by Teresa Toten 
(contemp middle grade novel, friendship, family, personal growth)

A little bit of fun background info from Barrie: I mentioned EIGHT DAYS to my very thoughtful sister who happens to have a memory like a steel trap. Basically, I was whining that the book was being released in Canada (where she lives) before the US (where I live). In the midst of exciting wedding-dress shopping with her eldest daughter in London, Ontario, my sister nipped into a bookstore and bought EIGHT DAYS for me! Of course, she read it first I would've done the same! She enjoyed the book so much, she wrote this review.... 

About the author: Teresa Toten is a Canadian children's book author who writes everything from picture books to middle grade to young adult. She's that kind of talented. Her young adult novel, THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, won the Governor General's Award. 

The premise of EIGHT DAYS: Samantha (Sami) has just found out her mother died suddenly in a drug rehab centre in Chicago. The catch: Sami was told her mother died 10 years ago. 

More about EIGHT DAYS: Sami lives in the very diverse Thorncliffe Park area of Toronto. She lives with her recovering alcoholic grandfather (her mother’s father), Carl. Following the shocking news, Sami and Carl, along with Aggie, a motherly neighbour, set out on a life-altering eight-day roadtrip (Toronto to Chicago to Toronto) to recover Sami’s mother’s body.

During the trip, Sami deals with her grief by staying in contact with close friends, Nilofer and Tarek and by being useful. As Sami says, she is not a crier. She's a responsible, helpful person. This is her tried-and-true strategy for getting people to keep her around. Along the way, Sami gains insight into her relationship with her mother and her mother’s reasons for disappearing, as well as her mother’s love for her. She learns new ways to navigate her relationship with Carl, as Carl learns to accept the past and the very different present in which he lives.

Recommendation: Yes, yes, yes! A great read for the 10-14-year-old crowd. The passages about grief ring very true, as does Sami’s fear of abandonment. The author doesn't shirk from difficult topics like drugs, alcohol, death, but addresses them in a wholly appropriate middle-grade way. And, as a Torontonian, I can attest to the authenticity of the Toronto setting with Sami visiting such locations as the Eaton Centre, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Home Hardware. Her entourage follows the Gardiner/ QEW to leave Canada.

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one! 

Phyllis Wheeler: 365 DAYS TO ALASKA by Cathy Carr (contemporary middle grade)

Jody Feldman: PRIDE AND PREMEDIATION by Tirzah Price (young adult mystery)


Jenn Jilks: GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by Diana Gabaldon (time travel, romance)

Linda McLaughlin: WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS by Stacy Abrams (legal thriller)
Lucy Sartain: THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig (time travel)

Sarah Laurence: NERUDA ON THE PARK by Cleyvis Natera (contempt, adult)

Scott Parker: THE LIGHTNING ROD by Brad Meltzer (mystery/thriller)


Margy Lutz: THE RIDE OF HER LIFE by Elizabeth Letts (biography)

Ray Potthoff: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN by Mark Twain (autobiography)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. Sheilagh,congratulations to your daughter! I can see why Barrie was eager to read 8 Days. What a compelling premise and quite unusual for MG. I imagine it being a liferaft to a child in similar challenging circumstances.

    Barrie, thanks for hosting!

  2. It does sound like a good book but pretty serious stuff for 10-14 year olds it sounds like. Thanks for reviewing Sheilagh!

  3. Sounds like a great book for kids facing death in the family. I was ten when my grandmother died, and I still remember the experience as difficult. Tweeted.

    Linda McLaughlin

  4. Books for young people are so different these days. When I was teaching it was in kindergarten and first grade so I missed the transition to more timely topics. - Margy

  5. Thanks for hosting! It's cool reading a book in a familiar setting.

  6. I've been meaning to read Teresa Toten. Thanks for this!

  7. Sami sounds like such a strong main character! Thanks for the review.


Comments are always welcome!