Sunday, December 06, 2015
Sunny Side Up, by Jenni and Matthew Holm
It's 1976 and Sunny Lewin is being sent down to Florida to spend some time with her Grandpa. But where Gramps lives is no Disney World ... it's a retirement community where Sunny has to wear an ID at all times to prove that she belongs there.
Luckily, Sunny isn't the only kid in the community. The groundskeeper's son Buzz lives there as well. He is totally into comics and introduces Sunny to some of his favorites while she's in Florida. The two of them manage to make some money finding lost cats for the old ladies, and golf balls for the pro shop to fund their comic habit.
These all seems rather bucolic and idyllic on the surface, but readers learn through Sunny's flashbacks that there is a reason that she is spending time with Gramps far from home. It turns out her older brother is experiencing problems with addiction. Sunny doesn't understand what's really happening -- she just knows her brother isn't who she remembers him to be and he's causing all kinds of trouble for their family.
Handled deftly, Sunny's confusion and concern are heartbreaking. Based on true events, the authenticity in this title stands out. The push pull of Sunny's feelings for her brother are obvious and none of the characters are one note. Little things like the toilet roll doll and lifting buns from the early bird special may go over younger readers' heads, but are perfect for the setting and the time period.
I borrowed our copy from the library, but will be purchasing this one to live on my shelves. I can imagine future me pulling it from the shelf and shedding a tear or two each and every time.