The premise: All her life Olivene Love's daddy has been a traveling preacher, so when the family pulls into Binder, Arkansas, she expects the usual three-day stay, and then it's on to another town. But when Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel and discovers his mom's in jail for murdering his dad (and Jimmy insists she's innocent), Ollie's need for a friend and her daddy's heart for helping others prove to be a solid force for change in this little town.
What keeps readers reading: A situation you want to mend and make right. Readers become Ollie, they stand in the shoes of her daddy, and they cheer and love Jimmy as someone (a family of someones, really) finally stands against what's wrong in Binder.
What I loved: The story's tone and freshness. It's something lively, beautiful, and full of hope. I look at Ollie and say, "Everybody needs a heart like hers." And I admire Jimmy and say, "Every person needs a friend like him."
For more middle grade recommendations, check the links put together by Shannon Messenger.
Happy middle grade reading!