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Cheryl Harness
Fiction
Ages 12 and up
HarperCollins, 2006, 0-06-078313-3
 We all have those moments when our families - our parents or our siblings - are an embarrassment or a trial to us. For Carmen, at the moment, it seems as if the members of her family are going out of their way to make her life miserable. First Dad decides to move the family from the country to a ramshackle old house in the city of Independence, Missouri. Then her parents announce that they are expecting another baby in the summer. For heavens sake, aren’t six children enough? Carmen is appalled that she is going to have to take care of yet another infant. All she wants to do is to be able to draw her pictures, to daydream about becoming a famous artist, and to have some time and space to herself.
  Then, on her birthday Carmen’s life is suddenly turned upside down. Mama begins to hemorrhage and she is rushed to hospital. The doctors are able to save her baby girl but they lose Mama. How on earth are they going to manage now? How will Carmen be able to take care of six children? She is going to junior high this year and she cannot imagine how she is supposed to have a life and take care of everyone at the same time. How will Dad manage without Mama, the woman whom he loved so totally and whom he depended on so much?
  In this book Cheryl Harness beautifully weaves together a tale about a young girl who struggles to hold onto her own dreams and at the same time who does her best to take care of her family. Dogged by poverty and misfortune this family has one thing going for it, the love that holds it together. Before our eyes Carmen evolves and changes, becoming a wiser and more grounded young woman who comes to realize that she is blessed and not cursed in her family and that holding onto our “castles in the air” is very important.
  With humor and pathos Cheryl Harness gets inside the mind and heart of this very normal girl who makes mistakes, acts selfishly at times, is courageous, and ultimately finds a place for herself that she is comfortable with.

 

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