I’ve long been a fan of Jo Knowles’ YA novels, so a few months ago, when Candlewick offered me an early peek at SEE YOU AT HARRY’S, her first title for ages 10 and up, I jumped at the opportunity. Jo is a writer-friend and one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. I knew I’d probably like it, but I still wasn’t fully prepared for the quiet power of this story.
Set in a small-town ice cream parlor, SEE YOU AT HARRY’S is about family and friends, grief and acceptance, healing and love and hope. It’s hard to give too much of a summary without spoilers. Here’s what the GoodReads blurb has to say:
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
And here’s what I have to say:
SEE YOU AT HARRY’S, simply put, is amazing. I can’t remember ever reading a story with more heart. It made me laugh and cry in equal turns and is one of the most beautiful, moving books I’ve ever read. It’s out today and not to be missed. Read it with a full box of Kleenex and people you love nearby.