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Missing May (Yearling Newbery) Paperback – September 1, 1993

3.9 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This wonderful book revolves around a few delightfully named characters: Summer, Uncle Ob, Aunt May and Cletus Underwood. After being passed among relatives, Summer joins her aunt and uncle and marvels at the couple's deep love for one another. But after Aunt May dies, Summer and Uncle Ob are brought together in their struggles to come to terms with the death. Cletus, a neighbor boy, comes along to help provide an answer. This simple and sweet story, which won the Newbery Medal in 1993, is injected with just the right touches of humor and mysticism.

From Publishers Weekly

This short novel is a study of grief--chiefly, that felt by Summer after her foster mother's sudden death, but also her sorrow at witnessing the grief of Ob, her foster father--she realizes that she herself may not be reason enough for him to go on living. And for several months it seems as if he may not in fact go on, until Summer and Ob take a short car trip that somehow transforms their lives. In a direct, matter-of-fact voice occasionally laced with irony and wry humor, Summer articulates many discerning insights about sorrow and loss. The reader remains a distant observer of her emotions, however--perhaps because the novel begins after May's death, making her a less immediate figure, perhaps because Summer's perceptions are quite sophisticated, even adult. And the novel's emotional turning point is difficult to grasp, either verbally or intuitively: all Summer, and we, know is that "something happened to Ob" to make him embrace life fully again. Ages 11-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 980L (What's this?)
  • Series: Yearling Newbery
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (September 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440408652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440408659
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I got this book a long while ago - I think I started reading it about 2 and a half years ago, but I got bored with it and didn't read any more. Then yesterday I found it on a bookshelf, and remembered two and a half years ago when I put it down. I started reading it, and somehow it had a different effect on me. I truly see the value of this calm and peaceful book. True, it doesn't have a lot to keep a person interested, but if you persevere to the end, you might also see the value of this book. I just have to warn you first - you will not find any action or fantasy in this book. This made it quite realistic to me. You probably know the plot by now from other reviews (Summer lives with Ob & May - uncle & aunt; May dies; Summer & Ob grieve; A boy named Cletus Underwood from school reads about someone who might help them communicate with May...). The end is touching and I really think this book has to sink into your mind for you to see the real value of this. I am very knowledgeable about the Newbery criteria, and in my opinion, this is one of the best choices for the Newbery Medal ever. I hope you will like it too, but I do recommend checking it out from your library before buying it, because many people won't like this book. One more thing - I usually do not like books about people dying and their relatives grieving, but I made an exception for this book.
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By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm not an adult, but I still enjoyed this story. Summer had an unconventional home: she lived with her great-aunt and uncle. She was content, until her aunt May died. Suddenly, Summer and her uncle Ob were wraiths of their former selves. Cletus, an eccentric classmate of Summer's, began visiting them and took their minds off May. But Ob was slowly losing the joy of living. In a quest to find closure, Summer, Ob, and Cletus went to find a spiritualist to help them communicate with May. Unfortunately, the medium too was dead. Somehow, though, they found a way to carry on. I liked the writing style, except for many run-on sentences that got annoying to read. The characters were pleasant people with pleasant names and sounded real enough to live next door. However, I didn't understand what brought back Ob's will to live as quickly as he had lost it. But I guess that happens sometimes in real life, on the roller coaster called grief. I reccomend this book to almost anyone, especially those who have lost loved ones.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As I would see the title of this book on lists of award winners, I always guessed that it was probably about a little girl named May who went missing. Boy, was I wrong! When twelve-year-old Summer was six, her mother died, and after being passed from house to house by her mother's brothers and sisters in Ohio, she came to live with her Aunt May and Uncle Ob in a rusty old trailer at Deep Water in Fayette County, WV. Now Aunt May has died while out working in her garden, and both Summer and Uncle Ob miss her terribly. Then one day Ob claims that May has sent him a sign from the spirit world, but when he fails to hear any more, he seems to be losing the will to go on living, and Summer just doesn't know what to do about it because she's feeling sad and forlorn herself.

However, their neighbor and Summer's odd seventh-grade classmate Cletus Underwood, who has collected a suitcase full of newspaper clippings, has a suggestion on how Uncle Ob, whom he has befriended, can find some comfort. What is it? Will it work? And what will happen to Ob? This book, which won the Newbery Medal in 1993, probably because someone thought that it was a good book to explain death and how kids deal with it, is a strange story. Certainly, mourning over the loss of a loved one is something that we've all felt. Of course, Christians learn to handle such situations by turning to the "...God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations..." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). While there are a few Biblical references scattered here and there, it is plain that Aunt May and Uncle Ob are not very religious. So where do Cletus, Summer, and Ob turn to find help? They set off in search of the Reverend Miriam B.
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Format: Paperback
The narrator of Missing May, Summer, has lost both of her parents and felt unwanted everywhere, until her elderly Uncle Ob and Aunt May take her in. Living with these two gentle souls, Summer begins to once again feel real familial love. Then Aunt May dies, plunging Ob and Summer into unrelenting sadness.
A classmate of Summer's, the eccentric Cletus Underwood, convinces Ob and Summer to embark on a journey to visit a medium he has read about. They agree and begin a trip, several hours by car. Somewhere along the way, they learn to accept the past and embrace the future.
Rylant, who won a Newbery Medal for this book, uses a gentle touch to tell this quiet story. She develops her characters by dropping subtle hints through their words and actions. She also incorporates rich seasonal symbolism. Yet, something about this book just didn't work for me. Perhaps I kept waiting for something to happen, some epiphany that never arrived. Though I could appreciate Rylant's craft, I didn't come away from the book feeling awed, but rather lulled and somewhat disappointed.
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