Absolutely Truly: A Book Review

Hi!

Absolutely TrulyTitle: Absolutely Truly

Author: Heather Vogel Frederick

Published: November 4th, 2014 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Genre: Middle Grade / Mystery

Source: Library / Hardcover

Series: I believe so! Although there is not much information available, it seems that this is the first of many Pumpkin Falls mysteries.

Summary: Now that Truly Lovejoy’s father has been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and is having trouble finding work back home, the family moves from Texas to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, to take over Lovejoy’s Books, a struggling bookstore that’s been in the family for one hundred years. With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy’s Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edition of Charlotte’s Web, which subsequently goes missing from the bookshop. What’s inside the envelope leads Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger. {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: Ask me to list my favorite books from my childhood, and the novels of Heather Vogel Frederick’s Mother-Daughter Book Club series would be some of the first books I’d name. Even though it’s been a couple of years since I read through one of the stories, I can still recall the lovable cast of characters, the small town setting, and the engaging, heart-warming plot. Fortunately, Frederick’s latest novel – and the first in a new series – is no different than her past books; Absolutely Truly was a delight to read from cover to cover. As an old fan of the author’s work and a lover of mysteries, I may be biased, but I hope you’ll take my word when I say Absolutely Truly is a middle grade to try.

Truly is no stranger to moving with her family, but when they finally settle in Texas, she thinks she’s finally found her home. However, Truly’s glee doesn’t last for long when her parents are asked to move to Pumpkin Falls to assist with the family business, a beloved bookstore. Pumpkin Falls fits the definition of a small town; there are independently owned businesses, a town busybody, and a small schoolhouse. While it’s hard to find a town like Pumpkin Falls outside of the fictional world, I adore the cozy atmosphere this setting provides. Even if Truly doesn’t begin a fan, would move to Pumpkin Falls in a heartbeat :) Furthermore, Frederick’s passion for reading and books seeps through the story with Truly’s family business, Lovejoy’s Books; encouraging a love of words is always welcome in middle grade fiction.

It’s clear that Frederick knows her audience. Readers at Truly’s age will surely relate to her worries about fitting in versus standing out or find themselves in Truly as she playfully fights with her siblings. Her passion for swimming, although mentioned briefly, was a refreshing element, as was Truly’s love for bird-watching. Both were hobbies I rarely see in MG or YA fiction, only adding to the novel’s charm! Truly also had a distinct voice as narrator – Frederick conveyed her variety of emotions perfectly. On a similar note, I adored reading about the Lovejoy family. From Truly’s hilarious, fun-loving brothers to her steadfast, dedicated mom, the Lovejoy’s earned their spot as one of my favorite fictional families.

While the positives of the novel far outweigh the bad, there are a few flaws to point out. I wish more background was given on Truly’s life as a military brat, as well as the change in her father’s demeanor after his injury. Frederick addressed these, but I think given more depth, these two elements of the story could strengthen the book as a whole. I also found that stereotypes limited the development of a few secondary characters. Thankfully, this didn’t grow to be a major concern, as it’s most likely just a result of the small town setting.

I wait eagerly for a new Heather Vogel Frederick book each year, and Absolutely Truly didn’t disappoint. The Pumpkin Falls mysteries are sure to become a beloved middle grade series, and I would happily recommend them to the middle school audience. Truly’s relatable voice and the entertaining small town citizens ensure this novel’s success, but I really had no doubt. This one is a winner – truly!

Pros: Realistic narrator, solid cast of secondary characters, and a memorable, well-developed setting.

Cons: More depth could have been given to a few important elements, namely Truly’s experience in a military family and her father’s reaction after a troubling injury.

Heads Up: Family-friendly!

Recommended for: Fans of the Mother-Daughter Book Club, middle school bookworms, and those who love a good mystery.

Around the Web:Absolutely Truly is definitely worth more than what it costs to buy, and is worth every second of reading for the experience” {read the rest of the review at Kidsreads HERE}.

“It was a decent book, but I had been hoping for so much more than decent–not only hoping for it, in fact, but expecting it” {read the rest of the review at My Full Bookshelf HERE}.

“I felt like in Absolutely Truly, Pumpkin Falls felt like the perfect cozy, everybody-knows-everybody, well-known town… And yet it still had a bit of mystery to it” {read the rest of the review at For the Bookish HERE}.

Have a terrific day!

B

Psst. You’ll notice my review format is slightly tweaked. Change is always good for the new year, right?! :)

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5 thoughts on “Absolutely Truly: A Book Review

  1. […] Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick | “I wait eagerly for a new Heather Vogel Frederick book each year, and Absolutely Truly didn’t disappoint. The Pumpkin Falls mysteries are sure to become a beloved middle grade series, and I would happily recommend them to the middle school audience.” […]

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  2. […] I read just as much middle grade as I do young adult, so I found it difficult to narrow down my list of favorite authors for this vast genre. However, I have long enjoyed Heather Vogel Frederick’s novels, from her beloved series, The Mother Daughter Book Club, to her recent small town mystery, Absolutely Truly. While I’m no longer in the intended age group for her books, I’m still happy to call myself a fan. {reviews: 1 / 2 / 3} […]

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  3. […] Immediately after “Say No to This” comes “The Room Where It Happens,” the number in which Burr explains and shares his take on the famed Dinner Table Compromise {another history lesson: this was a meal between Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison over the matter of the nation’s capital}. Others have expressed their wishes to be put in a high-fantasy world, but I’m a small-town, Stars-Hollow-inspired girl through and through. A day in Pumpkin Falls, the charming setting of Heather Vogel Frederick’s Absolutely Truly, sounds lovely. {review} […]

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