The Meaning of Maggie/Megan Jean Sovern: Reflections

Monday, February 10, 2014

Imagine this: A manuscript arrives on the desks of two exquisite editors at the same time. It is read through at once, loved at once. A tug here, a tug there, and it finds a home at Chronicle Books with Ginee Seo.

The other exquisite editor is named Tamra Tuller. Soon she will leave one coast to go to another to work at this same fine place called Chronicle. This book—this The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern—is now doubly loved in the same house by two editors who read it early on.

Since I'm lucky enough to know both Ginee and Tamra, I made it a point, not long ago, to snag a copy of this middle-grade novel for myself. What an absolute start-to-finish delight it is. This Maggie is going places—just ask her. She's the future president of the United States. She wins science fairs. She loves education so much that she calls those headed off to summer school the lucky ones and when her mother wants to take Maggie out of school for a special day, Maggie doesn't smile at the thought. She worries about what new knowledge she might miss.

What isn't lucky, though, and what can't easily be explained, is that Maggie's dad isn't well. His legs keep falling asleep. He has had to leave his job. He's supposed to be taking care of things at home while Maggie's mother works the laundry room at the local hotel. But sometimes Maggie's older sisters have to take care of Dad instead. And sometimes there are secrets that everyone refuses to tell. And sometimes things seem to falling apart, even though this eleven-year-old is pretty sure that if you're smart enough you can save the world.

Megan Jean Sovern's Maggie is indefatigable, footnote crazy, and memoir worthy, and this is her story of her quest to find out the name of her dad's condition and to find a way to fix it. It's a charming tale; it's a heartbreaking tale. It's the story of a mom, a dad, and three sisters who—nits and scrambles and sly comebacks aside—want desperately to take care of one another.  

The Meaning of Maggie is a book bound for glory. It was one of three books (including Stacey D'Erasmo's brilliant Wonderland and Beth Hoffman's gracious and moving Looking for Me) that I read throughout the recent storm. Intelligent, beautifully made books are often the best company we have. It's a fact from which I won't be dissuaded.


Unknown said...

I can't wait to read real books again. Not that the books I read for school aren't interesting and useful. I just miss "real" books.

PS Where was that picture taken? I want to go there!

Kate Hannigan said...

Okay, just finished my ARC of MEANING OF MAGGIE and now I feel obsessed! I can't get enough information about this amazing book and its amazing author, Megan Jean Sovern. I will recommend this book to anyone with a pulse!

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