Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb

Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

Fox Street was a dead end. In Mo Wren's opinion, this was only one of many wonderful, distinguishing things about it.

Mo lives on Fox Street with her dad and little sister, the Wild Child. Their house is in the middle of the block—right where a heart would be, if the street were a person. Fox Street has everything: a piano player, a fix-it man, the city's best burrito makers, a woman who cuts Mo's hair just right, not to mention a certain boy who wants to teach her how to skateboard. There's even a mean, spooky old lady, if ringing doorbells and running away, or leaving dead mice in mailboxes, is your idea of fun. Summers are Mo's favorite time, because her best friend, Mercedes, comes to stay.
Most important, though, Fox Street is where all Mo's memories of her mother live. The idea of anything changing on Fox Street is unimaginable—until it isn't.
This is the story of one unforgettable summer—a summer of alarming letters, mysterious errands, and surprising revelations—and how a tuft of bright red fur gives Mo the courage she needs.
We weren't sure about this one at first. Mo is described early on as a girl who "thinks too much", and her thoughts in places are worded more as if from an adult than from a child:
"That was how fast a life could change. The blink of an eye. The turn of a head. Change could come barreling down on you, out of nowhere, without warning, humongous and stupid and unstoppable."
"Every person you pass on the street, or wait behind in line, or see sitting alone on her porch-every one is summoning up the courage for some battle, whether you can see it or not."

In many ways, however, Mo is an adult, having shouldered some of the adult responsibilities in the house since her mother's death. In other ways, she is very much a child, wanting things to stay the same forever, not seeing things that are right on front of her because they aren't what she wants to see. As we read, we quickly got a sense of Mo on that familiar brink between child and adult, a young girl who is very smart in some ways but naive in others. This is the summer when things start to catch up with and balance each other out.
A bit of a slow start, but very enjoyable once you get into it. We would have liked to see some of the characters of the neighborhood fleshed out a bit more - some stop just short of being caricatures. Perhaps a sequel? This is the type of book that might gain more of a following were it part of a good series. The ending is satisfying and realistic, and could be left as is, or could lead the way to more. We give it a

3.5 out of 5.

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