Anna Was Here

by Jane Kurtz
ages: 8+
First sentence: “I was attending the weekly meeting of the Safety Club and thinking about my birthday party when the best thing and the worst things of my entire life filled me up and knocked me flat.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: August 29, 2013
Review copy given to me by a manager at the store.

Anna Nickel is a preacher’s kid, which she doesn’t really mind. Her dad’s just one of the ministers at their church in Colorado, and they’ve got a comfortable life. Then, her dad decides that he needs to uproot everything and move to Oakwood, Kansas — where he’s from — and be the temporary main preacher in the church there while they figure things out.

Anna, and this is a huge understatement, doesn’t want to go.

She protests her new pink room by sleeping in a sleeping bag in the hallway. She flat-out refuses to go to school. Even her usual pick-me-up of Preparing for Any Disaster (tips included in the book) doesn’t work. She doesn’t want to meet new relatives. She just wants. to. go. home.

But she’s only not-quite-10, so of course she can’t. And she has to learn to adapt. Even if it is against her will.

This was an okay book as far as middle grade fiction goes. I liked that — aside from Anna’s dad being overly involved in his work, which makes sense given the situation — the family was a good, solid one. I liked that Kurtz knew how to deal with religion and religious people; she didn’t make them out to be goody-goodies, or angsty, or unreachable. They’re just people trying to muddle through. But aside from that, the book is really flat. The entire conflict was that Anna didn’t want to move. I understand that — I experienced that — but it got old pretty fast in the book (at least for me). I wanted there to be some additional conflict, something more than just not liking small-town Kansas. Or moving.

But, that may have been adult sensibilities coming through. It really is hard to find a good MG book with a decent, together family. So there’s that. At least.

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