The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

HUM
The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
Publisher: Putnam
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (312 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she’s found it her mother says it’s time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother’s sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she’s never met. She can’t imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.

What if you lost the only home you ever had? How far would you go to find it again?

Grace and her mother are each other’s family. Going place to place, they never call one place home for long. A terrible accident happens and Grace loses her mother to a fall in the river. For the first time, Grace has to navigate a life that is very different from the one her mother had carved out for them. Her writing, once so precious to her is bottled up inside, just like her feelings. Grace’s grandmother claims her and she struggles to adjust to “The After.”

How can she live without her mother? How can she find her place in a world where she doesn’t belong? She wants to return to her friend and live with her-a place her mother would have approved of. Only the plans we make are not always the ones laid out for us. Grace begins to find this out as she follows clues that lead her to find her new life. There is new friendship, family issues, loss, exploration and just a little bit of romance to be found.

This book was a journey into the mind of a child who has lost everything. Grace’s mother was her world. The small origami paper cranes she folded and the little birds her mother made out of spoons become stars to travel by in this uncharted voyage to find the center of grief and move beyond it. Grace wants no part of her grandmother-the woman who turned her back on her very pregnant mother. She can’t stand the sounds of the river so she stays in the shed, keeping her distance from everyone and everything.

The thaw is slow. Once it comes it unfolds like the petals of a flower in the garden Grace’s grandmother so lovingly tends. We are all a part of each other’s lives. The decisions we make do affect other people and sometimes you make mistakes that you want more than anything to take back. And sometimes you just have to accept the strange things about people are the parts that make them who they are and love them just the same.

This book had me in tears more times than I could count. It is a middle grade read that really reaches into the feelings of devastation you can have when your whole world gets turned upside down. Where is home? Is it a person or a place? The Secret Hum of a Daisy also made me think about imagery of origami birds and the wonderful story of Sadaku and the paper cranes. It also hit on poetry, specifically Robert Frost. Lyrical in the structure of the story and the inclusion of art and poetry, I really felt the exploration and tender unfurling of Grace’s spirit as her new world is revealed to her step by tentative step.

I cannot recommend this tale highly enough. It is a book that could help so many kids deal with grief-and adults too. It made me think of my father and his passing and just how hard it was. I looked for signs from him forever just so I knew he was still up there watching. And you know what? They are everywhere. The ebb and flow of our life is poetry in motion. It is art and substance made real by every breath we take. And sometimes, if you listen there really is a secret hum in the background telling you the way…

You have to read this book.

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