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Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

With curbside pick-up and browsing-by-appointment, we will not be updating the blog as often. BUT, when we do, we will be sharing some newer titles that we have enjoyed and recommend. Here’s our first recommendation from Linnea:


Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker – Realistic Fiction/Recommended for Children age 9 & up.


Ware spends most of his time in his head. He likes it that way. His parents are always trying to get him outside and interacting with others but Ware is happy on his own. When they force him to go to “Rec Camp” for the summer, it feels like a prison sentence. On his first day at camp he sees a girl gardening in the empty church lot next door. He starts skipping camp to make his own castle in the lot with pieces of the abandoned church. The gardening girl, Jolene, forces him to make a series of tough compromises and agreements to use the space. Together Ware and Jolene work to create their own little worlds in this space and form a reluctant but close friendship.  Jolene thinks Ware is too busy dreaming to understand what life is like in the “real world”. In the real world things don’t work out.

One day a black car comes to the property and the children learn that their little place is going to be torn apart. Brokenhearted but hardened Jolene accepts this as another time that the real world has let her down. Ware refuses to give up. He must convince her that together they can save what they’ve made. The lot has become their refuge and they are not going to let it go without a fight.


Both Ware and Jolene as great characters and great role models for young tweens. Ware is thoughtful and creative. He sees the world differently from “normal” kids and finds things fascinating that others may overlook. Throughout the story he learns that these qualities are his strengths. This builds his self-confidence and helps him confront his parents, who have the best intentions but are always trying to change him. Jolene, on the other hand, is fierce and practical. She’s had to endure a lot in your young life and while she may be rough around the edges, she is loyal and determined. The book also incorporates interesting facts about environmental conservation. A great recommendations for kids who like thoughtful realistic fiction or those who may be feeling like an outsider. A heartfelt and hopeful summer-read.

Read A-likes: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Fort  by Cynthia DeFelice,  Bridge to Teribithia  by Katherine Paterson, The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy