When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction (Middle Grade)
Release Date: September 15, 2020
For fans of deeply poignant middle grade about friendship and loss like The Thing About Jellyfish, comes the story about a young girl who can’t remember anything from her previous summer after a hurricane.
Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah–even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend.
The only thing out of the ordinary for Clara is that something happened to her memory that made her forget everything that happened last summer after a hurricane hit. Sometimes things come back to her in drips like a tap that hasn’t been turned off properly. Other times her Mama fills in the blanks…only she knows those aren’t her memories and it is hard feeling like she is not like everybody else.
But this summer is going to be different for Clara. Everyone is buzzing with excitement over a new girl in the village who is not like other visitors. She is about to make big waves on the island–and give Clara a summer she won’t forget.
*I received a copy of ‘When Life Gives You Mangos’ through NetGalley and Delacorte Press, in exchange for an honest review*
My heart went out to Clara in ‘When Life Gives You Mangos’! All Clara wants is to repair her complicated friendship with Gaynah. The face that Gaynah isn’t supportive of her memory lapses doesn’t make things easier! Clara has an exciting cast of characters in her island community: a nagging matriarch with a heart of gold, an uncle known for his ‘eccentric past’, and a new girl with fashionable clothes with an eye for Clara’s well being.
The road to Clara’s memory recovery is indeed a struggle, as she comes to grips to the events that led her to that predicament. Her community is very supportive and protective, going to great lengths to keep secrets for the sake of security. It isn’t until a adventurous playdate in the neighborhood that Clara begins to discover there is more to her friendships than what she’s aware of.
I love Clara’s island community, for it has two identities. For many, it’s an exotic place, where tourists visit to admire for days at a time. However, Clara’s island is home. Her island brims with her community’s rich identity. Neighborhoods flow with beautiful trees and vibrant homes, their history dating back centuries. It’s where Clara feels the safety of her family, holding her close when times grow difficult.
This is a middle grade novel, and it does an exceptional job handling the topic of traumatic events to a young audience. The story begins with a storm impacting the community, yet it doesn’t go overboard with graphic details. The takeaway is always a community uniting together in order to support each other. Clara goes through rough patches with her memory loss, yet her community is there to support on of their own.
I would recommend When Life Gives You Mangos for those wanting stories about friendship and recovering from trauma. Such a heartfelt story!
Would you want to put When Life Gives You Mangos in your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!
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