Cover image for Dear Sweet Pea
Title:
Dear Sweet Pea
ISBN:
9780062473073
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
273 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Summary:
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??
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Summary

Summary

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?"


Author Notes

Julie Murphy's debut contemporary young adult novel, Side Effects May Vary, is out from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins and was well-received by Kirkus, School Library Journal, VOYA, Booklist, Seventeen Magazine, and Teen Vogue. Dumplin', Julie's sophomore novel has received glowing reviews including two stars from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and is a 2016 New York Times Best Seller. Film rights have been optioned by Disney.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Seventh grader Patricia "Sweet Pea" DiMarco contends with her parents' divorce, shifting friendships, and newfound self-awareness in this praiseworthy middle grade debut from YA author Murphy (Dumplin'). Along with Cheese, her "fifteen-pound orange tabby," Sweet Pea shuttles between her family's original house in Valentine, Tex., where her mother still lives, and the nearly identical home two doors down, where her father now resides, unsettled and frustrated by her parents' split and her dad's recent coming out. Recruited by her neighbor, eccentric local advice columnist Miss Flora Mae, to manage her mail while she's out of town, Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one letter and can't stop herself from opening--and responding to--some of the others, throwing her friendships into disarray as she navigates the line between right and wrong. As with her books for older readers, Murphy creates a richly imagined protagonist who shines in her strength, humor, and self-confidence; Sweet Pea is also plus-size by today's standards and is accepting and unashamed of her body. With gentle humor, ageless wisdom, and charming, genuine characters who represent a diversity of experiences, Murphy's novel offers all the emotional highs and lows of pitch-perfect middle grade. Ages 8--12. (Oct.)


Horn Book Review

While her eccentric advice-columnist neighbor is away, thirteen-year-old Sweet Pea (Patricia, but the childhood nickname stuck) is charged with forwarding Miss Flora Mae's correspondence. A letter from her popular former best friend prompts Sweet Pea to take the column into her own hands, which sets off a reconciliation between them-and leaves Sweet Pea's friend Oscar feeling left out. ("Fat kids gotta stick together," Oscar tells Sweet Pea, though he's more comfortable with the term than she is.) Adding to Sweet Pea's sense of being pulled in multiple directions is her parents' amicable divorce (her dad recently came out as gay) and their efforts to stay equally present in her life by living two doors apart. YA author Murphy's (Dumplin', rev. 11/15, and sequel; Ramona Blue, rev. 5/17) first novel for a slightly younger set is full of cringe-worthy but funny seventh-grade moments-if there's one thing worse than being unwanted at a party, it's puking on the birthday girl. Murphy also allows first-person narrator Sweet Pea plenty of room for more serious reflection about the people around her in her small Texas town, a cast diverse in ethnicity, sexual orientation, and body size as well as in attitudes. As Sweet Pea writes: "We're all just doing the best we can with the information we have." Shoshana Flax November/December 2019 p.93(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Murphy (Dumplin', 2015) creates a wonderfully realistic portrait of tween life in her first middle-grade novel. Sweet Pea has a lot going on as she muddles through seventh grade first and foremost, her parents' divorce. Though it's as amicable as they come, the divorce has thrown Sweet Pea for a loop, especially since her dad has simply moved down the street into a weirdly identical house. Luckily, she still has her best friend, Oscar, and cat, Cheese, to help her stay grounded. In an unlikely but immensely enjoyable twist, Sweet Pea begins ghostwriting responses for her neighbor's popular advice column, Miss Flora, Mae I?, while housesitting for her. She's delighted when her writing appears in the local paper, but her clandestine hobby has complicated ramifications. It comes between her and Oscar, yet it also allows her to repair another friendship and work through her feelings about the divorce. Sweet Pea is a treasure of a protagonist. She's fat without it being a cause for shame (though it comes with realistic challenges, like shopping in the junior's section), and she's not shy, popular, or an outcast: she's gloriously normal. Her burgeoning crush, embarrassment over period supplies, and utter mortification from barfing at a trampoline party will draw smiles and sympathy from readers, but Sweet Pea's flaws and personal revelations are what make her unforgettable.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A massive promotional campaign is being deployed for this book, and Murphy's younger Dumplin' fans will already be lining up for it.--Julia Smith Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--7--Thirteen-year-old Patricia, aka "Sweet Pea," is still adjusting to life after her parents' divorce. She doesn't know how to feel about her new normal; her mom and dad are basically pretending nothing has changed, and are living on the same block in almost identical houses. Their shared neighbor is the esoteric Flora Mae, the elderly advice columnist behind "Miss Flora Mae I?" and all-around institution in Valentine, TX. Miss Flora goes out of town and entrusts her young neighbor with sending along her letters. When Sweet Pea finds a letter in familiar handwriting, she is compelled to answer and becomes embroiled in a well-intentioned scheme of moonlighting as Miss Flora whenever inspiration strikes. But some letters hit too close to home for Sweet Pea, leading to advice that's not always based in the sender's best interest. Murphy, (Dumplin', 2015), succeeds yet again at crafting a touching, quotable coming-of-age story, this time exploring divorce, shifting friendships, crushes, queerness, and much more. Sweet Pea is a delightfully astute young teenager; sometimes the novel's charm hits high on the saccharine scale, but the girl's gentle fumbles as she maneuvers big changes at home and school bring the text back down to earth. VERDICT A first purchase for collections seeking warm realistic fiction that centers divorce, friendship, and self-reflection.--Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal


Kirkus Review

Near the end of seventh grade, a girl tangles with her family's changing shape, her friendships' changing shapes, and a professional advice column that's left temptingly unguarded.Sweet Pea lives in Valentine, Texas. Her therapist mother and housepainter father are divorcingso amicably that Dad moves only two houses away, into a house almost identical in both structure and dcor. This "twinning-parent-freak-show" is meant to keep Sweet Pea's life stable, but it doesn't. An ex-best-friend reenters Sweet Pea's life; a current best friend feels (justifiably) unappreciated; and Sweet Pea's job facilitating paperwork for a newspaper advice columnistthe peculiar old woman living between Sweet Pea's two "mirror" housesgives Sweet Pea unfettered access to the incoming letters and the columnist's typewriter. What's a girl to do? Sweet Pea's first-person narration is endearing and funny while her oblivious self-absorption on certain topics lets readers figure out connections first. Murphy's portrayal of a fat protagonist whose body is neither symbolic nor problematic is cheerworthy; a scene about the juniors' section carrying only sizes too small for Sweet Pea is the only one that shows discrimination, and her parents and community support her. Sweet Pea, her parents, and the advice columnist are white (refreshingly, specified rather than assumed); one best friend is Mexican, the other mixed-race (black/white). A few characters are gay.An excellent blend of eccentricity, humor, genuine sweetness, and mild drama. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.