Dear Sweet Pea

By: Julie Murphy

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. Then one day, Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. Sweet Pea is able to contain her curiosity about them…until she recognizes the handwriting on one of the envelopes. What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”

ISBN: 9780062473073

JLG Release: Feb 2020


Sensitive Areas: Homophobia
Topics: Divorce , Advice columns , Overweight people , Friendship , Self-esteem , Family life , Conduct of life , Neighbors , Small towns , West Texas , Gay fathers , LGBTQ

$16.80  Member Price


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Awards & Honors

Kirkus Best Books - 2019

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews*, The Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

Thirteen-year-old Patricia, aka “Sweet Pea,” is still adjusting to life after her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t know how to feel about her new normal; her mom and dad are basically pretending nothing has changed, and are living on the same block in almost identical houses. Their shared neighbor is the esoteric Flora Mae, the elderly advice Thirteen-year-old Patricia, aka “Sweet Pea,” is still adjusting to life after her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t know how to feel about her new normal; her mom and dad are basically pretending nothing has changed, and are living on the same block in almost identical houses. Their shared neighbor is the esoteric Flora Mae, the elderly advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?” and all-around institution in Valentine, TX. Miss Flora goes out of town and entrusts her young neighbor with sending along her letters. When Sweet Pea finds a letter in familiar handwriting, she is compelled to answer and becomes embroiled in a well-intentioned scheme of moonlighting as Miss Flora whenever inspiration strikes. But some letters hit too close to home for Sweet Pea, leading to advice that’s not always based in the sender’s best interest. Murphy, (Dumplin’, 2015), succeeds yet again at crafting a touching, quotable coming-of-age story, this time exploring divorce, shifting friendships, crushes, queerness, and much more. Sweet Pea is a delightfully astute young teenager; sometimes the novel’s charm hits high on the saccharine scale, but the girl’s gentle fumbles as she maneuvers big changes at home and school bring the text back down to earth. A first purchase for collections seeking warm realistic fiction that centers divorce, friendship, and self-reflection.

Horn Book

While her eccentric advice-columnist neighbor is away, thirteen-year-old Sweet Pea (Patricia, but the childhood nickname stuck) is charged with forwarding Miss Flora Mae’s correspondence. A letter from her popular former best friend, Kiera, prompts Sweet Pea to take the column into her own hands, which sets off a reconciliation between them—and While her eccentric advice-columnist neighbor is away, thirteen-year-old Sweet Pea (Patricia, but the childhood nickname stuck) is charged with forwarding Miss Flora Mae’s correspondence. A letter from her popular former best friend, Kiera, prompts Sweet Pea to take the column into her own hands, which sets off a reconciliation between them—and leaves Sweet Pea’s friend Oscar feeling left out. (“Fat kids gotta stick together,” Oscar tells Sweet Pea, though he’s more comfort¬able with the term than she is.) Adding to Sweet Pea’s sense of being pulled in multiple directions is her parents’ amicable divorce (her dad recently came out as gay) and their efforts to stay equally present in her life by living two doors apart. YA author Murphy’s (Dumplin’, rev. 11/15, and sequel; Ramona Blue, rev. 5/17) first novel for a slightly younger set is full of cringe-worthy but funny seventh-grade moments—if there’s one thing worse than being unwanted at a party, it’s puking on the birthday girl. Murphy also allows first-person narrator Sweet Pea plenty of room for more serious reflection about the people around her in her small Texas town, a cast diverse in ethnicity, sexual orientation, and body size as well as in attitudes. As Sweet Pea writes: “We’re all just doing the best we can with the information we have.”

Book Details

ISBN

9780062473073

First Release

February 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

288

Accelerated Reader

Level 5.1; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 810L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Balzer + Bray

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Homophobia

Topics

Divorce, Advice columns, Overweight people, Friendship, Self-esteem, Family life, Conduct of life, Neighbors, Small towns, West Texas, Gay fathers, LGBTQ,

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