MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY NOVELS ∼ A ROUNDUP ∼ THE GHOST OF MIDNIGHT LAKE…
Good Reads With Ronna is delighted to join in The Secret Hum of a Daisy (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, Ages 9-12) blog tour sharing insights into Tracy Holczer’s new middle grade novel.
Praise for The Secret Hum of a Daisy
“Tracy Holczer’s story is a lyric about love and loss and not being able to find your future until you’ve uncovered your past.”
— Richard Peck, author of Newbery winning A Year Down Yonder
Read it all!
As part of the tour, bloggers are posting Tracy Holczer’s answers to questions about her novel this week. After your appetite is whet, please scroll down to check out my review of The Secret Hum of a Daisy.
The Guest Post by Tracy Holczer:
Is there a playlist for The Secret Hum of a Daisy? Any books, movies, or TV shows that inspired it? Tell us about them.
I had a playlist ages ago that I don’t remember all that well. There was probably some Enya, some Sarah McLachlan, some Beethoven. Soothing. Mostly though, I don’t listen to music when I’m writing because there’s so much going on in my head, and lyrics compete. Weirdly, I don’t even listen to music in my car for the same reason. I’m not always in my chair with my laptop, typing a story. But I’m not sure my head ever stops. The characters are in there, the ideas for plot, memories that tie in to themes and how to navigate all that in a linear way so it makes sense to other people. Throw music on top of that and my head might just explode!
So while music wasn’t a big help in writing The Secret Hum of a Daisy, there is a book that inspired me – The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson. I don’t know how many times I read that story before, during, and since I wrote about Grace. I just love Gilly. She is tough and smart. Smarter than anyone in the room, but doesn’t know how to use her big brain for good. It’s such a great example of a story that chips away at a character, smoothing their edges, and making them shine. Partly this inspired me because I wondered what might have happened if Gilly came to her grandmother before meeting Trotter. That idea was part of a jumble of ideas that brought Grace to life.
The other blog tour participants include:
The Secret Hum of a Daisy Book Review by Ronna Mandel:
There is so much to love and admire in Tracy Holczer’s The Secret Hum of a Daisy that it’s hard to know where to begin. Do I start this review by telling you that Holczer, whom I happen to know, is a soft-spoken, articulate and thoughtful writer who took six years to get her debut novel just right despite it sounding like her prose poured forth onto the page with no effort? Or, do I focus instead on a story that resonated with me so deeply that I dog-eared practically ever other page (it was an ARC so that’s okay), something I rarely do?
Like Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses, another recent fave, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a middle grade fiction novel that is full of heart and soul, meaningful yet complicated relationships, authentic dialogue and fully realized characters. And best of all for me, she included no “dangling characters,” people who enter the story then seem to disappear into thin air. Everyone served to push the story forward, often introducing gentle surprises like a poem or even a piece of silverware. Holczer ties up her poignant plot and sub-plots in a more than satisfying package that delivers, according to her site, “all that can be found if you’re willing to hunt for treasure.”
The story opens with the narrator and main character, 12-year-old Grace, at the funeral of her mother. Little by little throughout the novel, the story of how Grace’s mother died in the Sacramento River is revealed helping the reader better understand Grace’s frame of mind. Grace feels responsible for her mom’s death and to keep from having to accept it, she prefers to remain in what she labels “before” rather than “after” which would mean having to move on. Because her mother never made roots, Grace considered herself to be “from just about everywhere else.” Now however, she must move in with her only living relative, her grandmother, whom she blames for sending her mother away to live on a farm in Texas when she got pregnant with Grace at 17. What Grandma never knew all those years after her daughter left, was that Grace and her Mama never left California. In fact, they were not very far from Auburn Valley, her hometown, when she died. Grace and Grandma must now try to forge a relationship and Grace intends to not make things easy. “It seems to me that Grandma must have been a pretty terrible mother to send her own daughter packing while she was so young and pregnant.” Will grandmother and granddaughter be able to get past all the history and hurt they each feel? With time, perhaps, but for Grace the answer seems to rest in mysterious clues in the form of origami cranes she finds around town like “the treasure hunts her mama left her each time they moved.”
One of the things I liked most in this novel was how the town of Auburn Valley, the neighbors and the people from Grace’s Mama’s past along with their stories become a roadmap for Grace to make her way back home. How she navigates her journey is a path every tween will relate to whether or not they have ever suffered a loss. At one point Grace says that writing words was how she saved herself. With that in mind, I say if a book could be a soft, warm blanket or a reassuring hug, then that would be Holczer’s gift to readers in this wonderful coming-of-age story.
Tracy Holczer lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters and two rather fluffy dogs. A 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices pick and Indie Next pick, her debut middle grade novel, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was published in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in May, 2014 and is forthcoming from Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany 2015.