Twelve year old Foster and her mother live a life "making the best of it". Foster lost her father in the Iraq War and her only memories she has left of him is a pillowcase of letters and his dog tags. One night they suddenly find themselves fleeing Memphis from her mother's abusive boyfriend and end up in the small town of Culpepper, West Virginia. Upon their arrival, they are welcomed by the many friendly citizens of the rural town. The eclectic characters of the small town are plentiful and the two settle in for the time being. Foster also has a learning disability but she is extremely gifted in baking muffins, cupcakes and breads. She has a dream of having her own cooking show and "making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time."
I really enjoyed this heart warming story....I found Foster's character strong and independent despite her unstable lifestyle. The many characters throughout the book added humor, support with open arms and their wisdom. I sensed the closeness of the small town people. They are feeling the effects of a prison being built promising jobs and hope but has failed in delivering. Foster finds a variety of friends such as Macon, a boy her age who dreams of becoming a documentary film maker to the many unlikely adults like Miss Charleena, the reclusive movie actress with many issues of her own. Although, Miss Charleena played an important role for Foster with acceptance of her learning disability and offering help she never seemed to receive from her previous school. Foster also finds she is not the only one that has big dreams among this community and she helps others as they help her. Foster develops her cooking talents into a small business selling her muffins and cupcakes to the local Bar and Grill. I liked the many subtle messages and life lessons I found throughout the book. The story does touch on domestic abuse more than once. Foster's mother has a black eye and later meets up with the same ex-boyfriend again in Memphis and returns with a bruise. She tells Foster she has fallen but does not believe her mother and eventually confronts her for the truth. This realistic fiction was touching and focuses mainly on following your dreams and finding a way to achieve them despite the things that get in the way. I did find this book located in the Young Adult section of my library but I think this could be a "just right book" for ages 11 and up.~
you may also like:
Almost Home by Joan Bauer
Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pub. Date: February 2011, Viking Juvenile
Hardcover, 250 pgs.