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Lily and Dunkin Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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“Though in less skillful hands this might have turned into a problem novel, it is, instead, a thoughtfully and sensitively written work of character-driven fiction that dramatically addresses two important subjects that deserve more widespread attention.” —Booklist starred review
About the Author
Donna Gephart’s award-winning novels are packed with humor and heart. They include Death by Toilet Paper; Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen; How to Survive Middle-School; and As if Being 12-3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! Donna is a popular speaker at schools, conferences, and book festivals. For reading guides, resources, writing tips, and more, visit donnagephart.com.
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I read LILY AND DUNKIN in one day. This is not-so-odd as it is time for the annual push for Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) and her #bookaday challenge. And I needed Gephart's book to get me back into that swing of daily reading again after closing up a very busy school year. I started reading the book in the morning and I kept coming back all day long to "read just a little bit more." The description of the book tells you what to expect from a chance meeting of a transgender and a bi-polar character at the end of one summer going into a new school year.
What the description does NOT tell you--by way of humble brag--is that Gephart has written a new FREAK THE MIGHTY for a new generation of readers. Gephart works the symbiotic relationship well through the book even building in a little bit of tension for the reader as Dunkin violates some of the motifs of the familiar convention. But, what we do have--like the MG classic FTM--is a character defied by her own body matched up with a larger character having difficulty finding the words for the associated feelings that come of losing a loved one. But none of this is formulaic. What Gephart offers to readers is a story that is familiar to those who read symbiotic relationship, but, in LILY AND DUNKIN we get something that we don't get in OF MICE AND MEN or FREAK THE MIGHTY.
We get parents. We get extended families. We get the pulling-toward and the pushback that comes of being in real-life families who struggle along with us. Who process the early buddings of a desire or a dream. Who champion our efforts. Who come to our aid when we call.
Comical and tender, this is the middle-grade book you are looking for this summer. Think GEORGE meets FREAK THE MIGHTY meets JOEY PIGZA, but be ready for a book that runs the gamut of emotions that come of real-life issues that are not overly-romanticized by Gephart. Th book also offers plenty of resources for more information on transgender-related issues as well as issues related to mental health. But, I'm really calling this a "January Book" (we'll be talking about the book a lot again. . .in January). Early predictions from Mr. Hankins.
This book. This book is so incredibly powerful and well done. The publicity on this book should be way better.
I was wavering on whether to read it and then a local, youth librarian was reading it at our public library and called it "pretty good."
Pretty good? Pashaw. This book is a MUST read for young people, and if it doesn't melt any reader's heart, then he's dead inside.
It covers all the great topics in adolescent literature (and my favorite literature): bullying, family drama, LGBTQ issues, mental illness, grief....
And the best relationship in this book is between Lily and the tree.
You'll fall for these characters, you'll root for them, and then you'll shove this book into your friends' hands.