Crenshaw

by Karherine Applegate
First sentence: “I noticed several weird things about the surfboarding cat.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There’s some difficult things for the younger set to handle, but Applegate handles them at an age-appropriate level. There’s larger print, a lot of white space, and illustrations as well. It’s in the Middle Grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

Jackson has had a bumpy life. His parents are musicians, which isn’t the most stable job, and his dad has MS. They’ve managed okay, mostly; though there was the one time when they were living in their van for a few months. It was during this time that Jackson’s imaginary friend, a huge cat named Crenshaw, showed up.

For the past few years, though, they’ve been pretty stable. Except things are going downhill again. How does Jackson know? Crenshaw has showed up again.

The question is: what can Jackson do about the piling bills, and the growing sense of helplessness that he feels. The answer may lie with Crenshaw.

I wanted to love this one. I really did. I adored The One and Only Ivan, loved Applegate’s simplicity in relating a story. But this one kind of fell flat. It wasn’t Jackson’s story: I feel that his story, the one of good people who just can’t make ends meet, is one that needs to be told. But I never could quite figure out what Crenshaw was doing there. Or why he was necessary. To add a bit of levity? To help Jackson? It never quite felt right, felt seamless to me.

That said, Applegate does know how to tell a story; it wasn’t so bad that I didn’t finish it. It just felt a little… off.. to me. Which, in the end, was disappointing.

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