A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

A Soft Place to Land: Marks, Janae: 9780062875877: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Joy’s father has recently lost his job, and the family has been forced to sell their house and move into a small apartment.  Joy misses her beloved home, and doesn’t like the thin walls of the new apartment and having to share a room with her little sister.  She’s happy to meet Nora, who quickly becomes a friend, and even more excited when Nora shows her the Hideout, a secret room in the building where Nora and her friends hang out.  The kids like to write on the walls, and one day Joy notices a new message from someone who seems to be in pain.  Joy writes back, but the writer stops responding before she can figure out who it is.  Before she can solve the mystery, a series of crises occurs with Joy’s family, her new friendship with Nora, and the discovery of the Hideout by the parents.  With the threat of changes to her family and friendships, Joy realizes how much she’s come to value the community of her new apartment building, and has to work hard and be creative to figure out a way to set things right again.  288 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  In her follow up to From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Janae Marks again proves herself an excellent storyteller.  Joy is a believable sixth-grade narrator, the other characters are well-developed, and the different plotlines hum along at a pace that will keep the reader moving quickly through the book.  Plus, I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

Cons:  I thought the revelation of who the anonymous wall-writer was and the reason for the messages was going to be a bit more dramatic.

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