Hopes if a Ferris Wheel (2014) by Robin Herrera
Suggested age range: 10 and up (Amulet Books, 272 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Source: e-ARC from Net Galley
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary Realism
Release Date: March 11th, 2014
“ ‘Dreams are a letter,’ I said. ‘You will it with all your thoughts and feeings and wishes. But then you have to send it away, and you’re not sure when it will get back where it’s going or if you’ll get anything back at all. But you have to send it to find out.’”
The Book: Ten year old Star lives in a trailer park with her mother and older sister. The kids at school think she’s weird and make fun of her “layered” haircut. She wants to start a club, and when the Trailer Park club idea fails, she decides to start the Emily Dickinson Club. Through the club, Star gets to know more classmates—a boy who is continually in detention with her, as well as one who continually glares in her direction. Narrated from her perspective, Star’s story focuses on her hopes for meeting her father, the poetry she is inspired to write, and her navigation of relationships both at home and at school.
Spirituality in Hope is a Ferris Wheel: Poetry can engage our spirituality! At least, that has been my experience. Sometimes, our poetic expressions can reveal our authentic selves, and I think that we find out more about Star (and her heart’s desires) through the poetry she writes in the novel. The concept of “hope” in the book drew me to reflect on how hope can be a spiritual issue. One afternoon the members of the club begin discussing the definition of hope. I love Star’s explanation of hope as a ferris wheel because “you can be far away from something, really wanting it, and the wheel can bring you closer.” Sometimes our hope doesn’t make sense, but even in the midst of unknowing or confusion, hope represents a powerful source. The way the story engages with those ideas was refreshing!
Exploring this Book with Readers: We on the blog are huge fans of donuts—making them and eating them. It was a true delight to see all the references to donuts in this book, particularly Heavenly Donuts. Gloria, the family friend, uses the phrase “Heavenly Donuts!” frequently. Playing around with language and written expression are two topics that surface in the story. Readers might be invited to answer Star’s question: What is hope? We might also consider, what does Gloria’s phrase really mean and why does she use that one? You never know—talking about donuts could lead into all sorts of significant subjects…
The Final Word: I highly recommend this humorous and realistic read! Star is a spunky and cute character whose antics at school made me laugh often! Her persistence about creating a club at her school was inspiring. Even though she gets teased, and experiences challenges, especially relating to finding her father, Star just keeps going. In this way, her character embodies hope, and I think this novel would generate some fantastic discussion about life’s challenges, perseverance, and relationships.
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for a honest review!
Stay tuned for my interview with the author next week!