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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson



title: Swing Sideways
author: Nanci Turner Steveson
release date: May 3, 2016
pub: Harper Collins
format: hardcover
source: from pub for review
Perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons, this debut middle grade novel is the story of two girls and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and loss.

Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and, most of all, freedom from her mom’s life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules.

When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the summer she’s always craved. Especially when California offers Annie a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is—and fix what’s broken between her mom and her grandfather.

But Annie’s summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery and love will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.


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Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson is a heartfelt and lovely middle-grade contemp. Annie is looking forward to a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from her overly-scheduled and boring life. California (the girl, not the state) is anything but boring. California offers Annie two things she’s never had: real friendship and adventure. The two set out to find two missing ponies in hopes of convincing California’s mom to return to the farm and family she left long ago. But secrets and heartache threaten to ruin Annie’s blissful and free summer.

Swing Sideways has such a classic, timeless feel to it. Steveson weaves a beautiful and captivating story, so full of emotion, sweetness, and likable characters. The country, lake-side location and California’s grandfather’s farm in upstate NY, make for a refreshing and perfect summer setting. Young readers will love exploring the countryside and woods with Annie and California as they search for the ponies and clues about why California’s mother left home all those years ago.

The friendship between the two girls is so pure and genuine, and a delight to watch unfold. Sweet, thoughtful Annie is just trying to figure out who she is and what she wants in life. And California has a personality as big as the state she was named after. They couldn’t be more different, but I just love the way these two girls connect and engage.

The poignancy, heartache, and tough lessons are deeply felt throughout Swing Sideways...have those tissues handy!...but there’s also so much love, joy, and happiness captured in Steveson’s wonderful words.

My final thoughts: Swing Sideways is an incredibly moving, heartwarming, and unforgettable book that will stay with readers for a long time.

MY RATING
5/5 Cupcakes

Nanci grew up in Connecticut, England and Texas, always with a book in one hand, the reins of a pony in the other. She wrote her first “novel” at the age of nine, which she uses to teach young writing students never to give up, no matter the odds. After raising her two sons in Maryland, Nanci made her dream come true by moving to a historic cabin in a meadow in Jackson Hole, WY. Aside from writing novels for young people, she is a professional theatre stage manager and the Teen Writing Instructor at her local library. She lives with her two horses, two dogs, and an abundance of wildlife in the national forest right outside her back door. 

Nanci is a strong believer in the power of books and kids.


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