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Monday, March 18, 2019

7th MMGM: The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly by Rebecca Ansari (review, interview, giveaway)

Welcome to Day 13 of the 7th Annual March MG Madness! Click here to see the full schedule and links to other days.

The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly 
By Rebecca Ansari 
March 5, 2019 
Walden Pond Press 

Charlie O’Reilly is an only child. Which is why it makes everyone uncomfortable when he talks about his brother. Liam, his eight-year-old kid brother, who, up until a year ago, slept in the bunk above Charlie, took pride in being as annoying as possible, and was the only person who could make Charlie laugh until it hurt. 

Then came the morning when the bunk, and Liam, disappeared forever. No one even remembers him—not Charlie’s mother, who has been lost in her own troubles; and not Charlie’s father, who is gone frequently on business trips. The only person who believes Charlie is his best friend, Ana—even if she has no memory of Liam, she is as determined as Charlie is to figure out what happened to him. 

The search seems hopeless—until Charlie receives a mysterious note, written in Liam’s handwriting. The note leads Charlie and Ana to make some profound discoveries about a magic they didn’t know existed, and they soon realize that if they're going to save Liam, they may need to risk being forgotten themselves, forever. 

Thirteen-year old Charlie O’Reilly’s little brother Liam has disappeared...he simply vanished. And for some reason Charlie is the only one who remembers Liam ever even existed; not even their parents remember Liam. When strange dreams, notes, and occurrences happen, Charlie, with his best friend Ana by his side, set out to uncover the truth about where Liam went and how to get him back. 

Rebecca Ansari’s The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly is a heartfelt and captivating new middle-grade book. Fantasy, mystery, and a bit of adventure all collide in this thought-provoking and deeply felt story. 

The mystery and circumstances surrounding Liam’s disappearing were not what I expected, but they definitely weren’t disappointing either. Ansari’s smartly crafted story, so full of twists; turns; and the unexpected, will keep young readers riveted until the very last page. The magical elements are infused with an enthralling macabre darkness that is both beautiful and startling. The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly explores real-life topics, like depression; grief; guilt; forgiveness; LGBTQ issues; and more, with sensitivity and depth. And the real heart of this story are its characters. From determined Charlie, loyal Ana, endearing Liam, complicated Jonathan, heartbroken Brona, and more, readers will find the characters to be engaging, well-developed, and full of complex layers. 

Powerfully profound, cleverly written, with an immense impact, The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly is a great debut. 

Q1. What three words best describe your book The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly? 


Q2.  Grab a copy of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly and answer the following 

Favorite chapter? Chapter 38. The last of all the secrets and revelations are out, and Charlie has a deep sense of understanding and forgiveness that breaks my heart (in a good way!) each time I read it. 
Favorite page? Page 46, the moment the reader gets the first concrete clue that everything is about to turn upside down. 

Favorite setting? Oh, this one will give too much away! I’ll say “underground” and leave it at that! 

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
Charlie and Ana’s well-known search for Charlie’s nonexistent brother was a common source of gossip at Westmore Middle School. “They used to be normal,” their fellow sixth graders whispered behind their hands.   

Q3. What inspired The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly? How did the story come to be? 

A few years ago, there was a news story of two twelve-year-old best friends who went missing. Their families were close, and I wondered if there was a story in how two families would cope with an identical loss like that. I soon realized, however, that wasn’t much of a children’s book. What made the idea click into crisp focus was the twist that only the missing children’s siblings noticed. Children so often don’t feel heard, so making Charlie utterly voiceless about the most important thing in his life–his own brother’s disappearance–kicked things off in a new and fun direction. Originally, there were two missing siblings, one for each Charlie and Ana, but that rapidly became too complicated. Once it was just Liam who was missing, all I had to figure out was where the heck he’d gone! 

Q4. Tell us a bit about your character Charlie. What makes him special? What do you love about him? 

I love Charlie’s steadfast loyalty to both his family and friends. It is in his bones. Despite being told repeatedly (sometimes kindly, other times not) that he’s delusional, he refuses to forsake his brother or surrender hope in finding him. His friendship with Ana is also an extremely tight bond, one that nourishes both of them and shields them against many of the challenges they encounter. He is a kind, good soul. 

Q5. What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade lit? 

I have had a front row seat to my readership throughout this writing journey, raising sons who are now 10-16 years old. The “middle grade” years are so hard, in so many ways, with monumental shifts in emotional maturity, interpersonal relationships and personal identity. The word “formative” doesn’t seem big enough to capture its own definition. I love writing and reading middle grade because it taps into both a common and a fundamentally unique path everyone must walk, learning with each step a little bit more of what makes up “me.” 

Q6. What is your all-time favorite middle-grade book? 

Holes, by Louis Sachar. The way the stories weaves and connects is completely awe inspiring to me. 

Q7. Fill in the blanks:

I’m really awesome at cooking for a huge crowd. 

I’m really embarrassed to admit I can’t sew to save my life. 

The last great book I read was Sweep, by Jonathan Auxier 
Q8. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly what would it look and taste like? What would you call it? 

It would look… strange. Undeniably intriguing, but not entirely appetizing at the same time, like one of those donuts with a strip of bacon on it. It would be dark on the outside, chocolate on chocolate, with decorations that seem out of place, like sprinkles next to a tiny matchbox car and one of those vending machine diamond rings. You would look at it and tell the friend next to you “this cupcake doesn’t make sense!” You would bite into it and find it is much more colorful on the inside, with multiple ingredients that are equally surprising – gummy bears, a bay leaf, wasabi peas – and somehow all of these insane and bizarre pieces pieces would blend into a fantastically satisfying snack. It would all come together in an unexpected way, make you smile, and hopefully ask for another. 

Rebecca K.S. Ansari is a former ER doctor. The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly is her first book. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, four sons, and some seriously massive pets. 

Win a copy of
The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly!
Walden Pond Press has generously offered one copy for one winner.
-US only
-ends 4/5/19
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes

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Brenda said...

Somehow I missed this one, adding it to the TBR. It sounds pretty scary and I do like creepy books.

Danielle H. said...

This book sounds fun to read and I love that Charlie is so loyal to his family, especially his brother. I'm looking forward to reading about the friendships inside too and need to know the truth about Charlie's brother!

Slowsly said...

Thank you for introducing me to this book. I love a good mystery and this one sounds awesome.

John Smith said...

I am sorry to hear that the author can't sew. Maybe she could take up collage!

Lisa Maucione said...

Mystery, suspenseful, and heartfelt - this already sounds like an amazing book! I look forward to reading it!

Crista c said...

I can't wait to read this book.

Dan Denman said...

This sounds like a magical mystery. I like the book title and cover.