Over the weekend I heard about Barbara Park passing away. Many know her as the author of the Junie B. Jones series. I recently finished reading her book Mick Harte Was Here and decided to post my review of it in memory of her life and the works she left behind.
"I don't want to make you cry. I just want to tell you about Mick. But I thought you should know right up front that he's not here anymore. I just thought that would be fair." Phoebe Harte
Eighth grader Phoebe Harte’s whole world has changed because of her brother Mick’s bike accident. He had asked her to ride his bike home that day, but she couldn’t do it. So Mick rode it, but he wasn’t wearing a helmet when he was hit by a truck. A helmet would have made all the difference. At home Phoebe’s parents are totally different, no longer caring about creases in pants or eating with forks. It’s hard to care about regular everyday parts of life when someone you loved has died.
Mick and Phoebe were only a year apart, and their lives were intertwined. Mick was a cool kid with lots of friends and school isn't the same because no one knows what to say to Phoebe or how to act around her. When the head of the PTA asks Phoebe to talk to the school about bike safety, it really annoys her since it won’t bring her brother back. Will Phoebe’s family ever get back to living? Is it possible for Phoebe to give a talk about bike safety? Will Phoebe be able to answer the questions that have come up since she lost her brother? Will she ever forgive herself for not riding his bike home the day of his accident? Read this moving book about love, safety, and coping with loss.
Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park is a book that will grab your heart right from the start! At less than one hundred pages, it is a quick read, which is good because it will probably make you cry, but you will laugh too. Phoebe is such a down to earth character whose sadness, anger, and confusion really come through to the reader. She is honest right from the start and lets the reader know her brother is dead. Her memories about Mick will have you laughing out loud, and you will wish you had had the chance to meet him. As Phoebe searches for answers to what happens now, she is also filled with regret. She feels like she could have stopped the accident, and then no one would have to go through the pain of losing Mick. Reading her conversation about the “what ifs” that she has with her dad really opened my eyes about why we need to let things go because there is always something to regret if we let ourselves go down that path. I think this book would be helpful for anyone that has experienced a major loss because they would be able to relate to Phoebe and might learn from her about healing. It is also an excellent book for people to read who have friends that have gone through something big and they want to show they care but don't know the right words to say. I would recommend this book to anyone in fourth grade and up who is ready for an emotional story with characters that will really make them think. I know third graders who have read it, but I should also mention that Phoebe does swear a little bit in the book, which seemed natural because of the circumstances. This is a book that you shouldn’t miss because it will open your eyes and will make you think about safety and letting go of things you can’t change.
Has anyone else read Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park? Or have you read another book by this author? We would love to hear your thoughts!
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