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“The story is beautiful! The writing is beautiful! The characters are beautiful! Della and her community show an empathetic view of mental illness. Readers will understand that mental illness isn’t ‘crazy,’ and sometimes helping someone else heal can mean learning to heal yourself first.”Allison Barton, The Children’s Book Garden (Berlin, MD)
“This book is a punch in the gut from start to finish. Powerful and thoughtful, Where the Watermelons Grow drops us into Della’s world of a schizophrenic mother, a stressed-out father, and the very real but maybe not-so-realistic hope she has of ‘fixing’ things. Cindy Baldwin’s writing had me feeling the oppressive heat of the Southern summer and the quiet desperation of wanting everything to just be okay or back to ‘normal.’ The treatment of mental illness in this book really stands out. Our young protagonist learns that even if your mother is sick and you don’t have a magical cure for it, she is still a whole person to love, respect, and care for, and that with the support of family and friends, you can help someone try to get better.”
Nicole Yasinsky, Novel. (Memphis, TN)
“Della Kelly has a lot of work to do on her family’s farm in Maryville, North Carolina. There’s a drought, her sister Mylie is a terror, and Mama is ‘sick.’ As Della struggles through her own bout of magical thinking—believing herself the cause of her mother’s schizophrenia—she must learn to trust and rely on her friends and neighbors. With hints of fabulism (I love magical bees) and an immense amount of heart, Della’s summer is full of lessons about self-reliance and trusting your ‘tribe.’ It was a delight to watch her rely on the strength of her best friend, Arden; the wisdom of Miss Tabitha, The Bee Lady (and her magic-imbued honey); and the deep love of Miss Lorena, who also shares her books. This is a testament to the village it takes to raise a family and keep it whole. This warmed my little Hufflepuff heart—I didn’t even need a mug of hot cocoa.”
Jessica Hahl, The Country Bookshelf (Bozeman, MT)
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