The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: March 26, 2019

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's description:

Twelve-year-old Sunny St. James navigates heart surgery, reconnecting with her lost mother, first kisses, and emerging feelings for another girl in this stunning, heartfelt novel--perfect for fans of Ali Benjamin and Erin Entrada Kelly.

When Sunny St. James receives a new heart, she decides to set off on a "New Life Plan": 1) do awesome amazing things she could never do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) kiss a boy for the first time.

Her "New Life Plan" seems to be racing forward, but when she meets her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy at all. With the reemergence of her mother, Sunny begins a journey to becoming the new Sunny St. James.

This sweet, tender novel dares readers to find the might in their own hearts.

My review:

While this is middle-grade fiction, it deftly handled some pretty big topics in an age-appropriate way, including alcoholism, parental abandonment, burgeoning sexual identity, found family, and major health issues. I liked that the characters were all authentic, with graces and flaws. We join Sunny’s world on the day she gets her heart transplant. She’s been Old Life Sunny, who may or may not live, for long enough. With her new heart, she is ready to be New Life Sunny. But the new life plan gets complicated when her mother shows back up after eight years and she starts to develop some serious “like-like” feelings about her amazing new best friend, Quinn.

There is a lot of love in this book, even through some heartbreak. It feels very real as Sunny navigates so many different emotions and changes in her life. If you cry during emotional books, be prepared with your tissues. There are happy tears and tears as you ache for this little girl who has already dealt with so much in her life. This is quality fiction - middle grade or otherwise.

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