MG at Heart and the Need for Sad Books in Middle Grade

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The MG at Heart team is back again with a mid-month post about our October pick, Amanda Rawson Hill’s The Three Rules of Everyday Magic. A heartfelt story that explores mental illnesses and their effect on family.

Kate has trouble believing in magic, especially since the people she loves keep leaving her. But when Grammy tells her the three rules of everyday magic—believe, give, and trust—Kate can’t resist believing, at least a little. Following Grammy’s advice, she tries to bring her father, her best friend, and even Grammy herself back to her. Nothing turns out as Kate expects, yet the magic of giving—of trusting that if you love and give, good things will happen, even if you don’t see them happen—will change Kate and her family forever.

One of Amanda’s soap box topics is the need for sad books in middle grade, and we, at MG at Heart, know that life is not always sunshine and roses. Sometimes awful things happen to wonderful kids, and we want to explore all facets of a middle-grader’s emotions. It’s totally apropos that Amanda wrote one of these desperately needed novels.

In Amanda’s book, Kate’s father suffers from severe depression. He’s moved out of the house and hasn’t told Kate where he went—a mystery she eventually solves (and also breaks my heart). His depression is so realistic and unfiltered. There’s nothing sheltered about what depression can do to a person and how broken it can leave a child.

In addition to the severity of her dad’s depression, Kate also learns what Alzheimer’s can do to a loved one, her grandmother. Grammy has partially “left” in a different way; she can’t remember people or things that she loved. She does have moments of clarity, but she and Kate figure out that soon her memory will be completely gone. And they’ll have to learn to love each other in a new way.

These types of huge life events change a child. A best friend becomes best friends with someone else. A grandparent has Alzheimer’s. A parent dies.

We want kids to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel what you need to feel. It’s okay to be sad or angry or frustrated.

You’re not alone.

To enjoy Amanda’s wonderfully realistic book, check out The Three Rules of Everyday Magic, where her beautiful words will tug at your heartstrings and color your emotions with warmth.

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