When Life Gives You Mangoes is set in a small island village, Sycamore Hill. Clara can't remember anything that happened in the last year and readers can immediately tell that everyone around her is concerned about this and about her in general. She spends most of time with her best friend Gaynah, playing games sometimes with the other island children. We learn that she used to surf, but she's now terrified of the water and won't even dip her toes in. But then, a new girl, Rudy, comes to their small village, where no one ever visits. As she tries to befriend Clara, a few secrets are revealed.
The Distance to Home is Jenn Bishop's debut middle-grade novel. I read and loved her most recent release, Things We Can't Say about a boy dealing with parental suicide. The Distance to Home focuses on an equally sensitive subject: the death of a sibling. This summer, Quinnen isn't playing baseball with her team -- she decided to quit after her sister, Haley died the summer before. But when her family decides to host a player from a Minor League Baseball team, Quinnen starts to bond with the a couple of the players.
In Center of Gravity, Tessa has become more anxious after losing her mother to breast cancer. This middle-grade novel is set in 1985, which I guess would make it historical fiction. To soothe her anxiety, Tessa cuts pictures of missing kids out of milk cartons. For her, it is crucial that every next milk carton bear the face of a child not already in her collection. So, at lunch, she has to take time sifting through milk cartons to find a new face.
After his father dies by suicide, Drew tries to move forward with life by volunteering at the library where his mom works. The kids love him for his zombie story time sessions and because he’s a generally responsible boy. He helps his mom watch his little brother, Xander and helps cook dinner -- he even mows the lawn. But this summer, three years after his Father’s death, a new girl Audrey starts volunteering at the library too. She’s good with computers and he’s worried she’ll steal his shine — and that’s not even the worst part of his summer. A new man, Phil seems to have ridden into his mother’s life and Drew isn't sure what's up between them. Somehow he begins to think that Phil might be his father.