Forever Yours by Patricia Hebert
I just finished a wonderful book by Massachusetts author, Patricia Hebert. The title is Forever Yours which gave me the impression it is a romance; which is sort of is. The romance in the book is a story within the story of twelve year old Sarah, who has just moved all the way across the country from the only home she has ever known. Younger sister Molly is excited, as is Dad, who has found his dream job in Stockbridge, MA. (The town made famous by Norman Rockwell, hence my choice of illustrations!) Mom is not thrilled to be leaving her beloved Bainbridge Island, WA, but supports her husband's dream. And then there's Sarah. Refusing to eat. Refusing to talk. Or even walk to the car - her dad has to carry her! Sarah is bratty and mean-spirited during the packing, the drive across the country, and setting up the new house.
And what a house it is! Very old and needing more than cosmetic renovations, the house was home to two women since WWII, with little changing during those years. A big, old, musty house. What do you think the kids at school immediately tell Sarah? Her house is haunted! Sarah, who has seen mysterious lights and objects that have been moved, believes the tales.
Sarah makes one friend at school, Melody, who has had several tragedies in her twelve years. Melody is enthralled with the ghost stories, and believes the ghosts in Sarah's house killed her baby brother. Sarah's hunt for information about the house leads to the romance story within Sarah's tale.
I really enjoyed Forever Yours because of Sarah's honest brattiness! She knew she was being a jerk about the move, but she truly was devastated. She couldn't make the best of things as her mother did, and she took it out on everyone around her. She would even think to herself that she couldn't believe how horrible she was being, until she finally realized that she wasn't accomplishing anything and the family was not moving back to Washington.
I would have liked to know more about Jeff, the bully who has it out for Sarah. Why is he this way? Does he bully everyone? Why do no adults see this? Speaking of the adults, as a teacher myself, I really did not like the way the teacher and principal handled situations between Jeff and Sarah. They basically blew it off, which would NEVER happen, especially if other students witnessed something violent. There was no "investigation" of any kind, not even listening to each child's side of the story.
According to Amazon, Forever Yours is for young people ages 9-12. I would say that while it is great for girls in that age group, it's also an interesting read for adults, and doesn't need to be thought of as a children's book per se. We'll see what my 11 year old niece thinks when she reads it! If you're getting Christmas gifts now as you find things, you probably won't go wrong with Patricia Hebert's first novel.