Title: Dear Sweet Pea
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 1, 2019
The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”
Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.
Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.
What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”
Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco’s parents are getting divorced, but they will still be living on the same street. One day, Sweet Pea sees her neighbour, the advice columnist Miss Flora Mae, who tells Sweet Pea that she is going away for a while. She asks Sweet Pea to collect the letters she receives for her column and to send them to her, as well as to submit the ones that she answers to the newspaper. When Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the letters, she decides to answer it herself. The decision to answer the letter creates a lot of problems for Sweet Pea.
I loved Sweet Pea. She was funny and quirky. She spoke her mind, which sometimes got her into trouble. She wore the same outfit everyday and had a cat named Cheese. I liked that Sweet Pea acknowledged her bigger size. I could relate to that, especially when she has trouble finding a nice dress to wear because the pretty ones weren’t in her size. Sweet Pea was an adorable and relatable character.
There was a variety of problems that came up in this story. There was bullying, losing friends, and moving to a new school. Body changes and puberty were mentioned a few times. Two different sets of parents had marriage problems. These things didn’t all happen to Sweet Pea, but they were all addressed in the story. It’s nice to see these realistic challenges in a middle grade novel, because readers may also come across these issues in their lives.
This is such a fun story! I loved it!
What to read next:
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Have you read Dear Sweet Pea? What did you think of it?