Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl's devotion to her brother and what it means to be home.
When 11-year-old Thyme Owens' little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it's just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme's best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn't exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.
After Val's treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother and knows the trial could save his life - she'd give anything for him to be well - but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and the days and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.
With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin's debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family - and what it means to be counted.
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I moved between the print book and the audio and enjoyed both. Kathleen McInerney is a talented narrator who does justice to Conklin's story.
I liked how the main character, Thyme, struggles in a way that feels both true to her situation (sick brother, new city) and her tween-ness.
I enjoyed Kathleen McInerney's work on the Fish in a Tree audiobook, and that motivated me to spend a credit on the audio version of Counting Thyme. She is a reliable, consistent narrator who can deliver a variety of voices without distracting from the story, and that is what matters to me.
Thyme has to come to terms with a very hard truth regarding her family's situation near the end of the book, and this just broke my heart as a reader. But how she comes to terms with that truth also put my reading heart back together again. Which is probably why I was up past midnight finishing this novel.
A great middle grade novel, particularly for those who enjoy strong character development and drama. I plan to keep an eye out for future work by Melanie Conklin.