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The Someday Birds: 02/23/18
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla is about a bucket list of birds and a cross country trip to reunite with a father who is undergoing brain surgery to repair the damage done while on assignment in Afghanistan. Charlie and his sister, and their twin brothers have been living with their grandmother while Dad has been in the hospital. Now grandmother is leaving them in the care of a family friend and his sister's sloppy boyfriend, so that she can fly to Virginia to be with their father for his surgery and recovery.
Charlie who likes things his way and likes to stay extra clean (leaving one to assume maybe mild autism or OCD or some combo, but with no stated diagnosis), is thrust into more and more situations that he's uncomfortable with. But love for his father and his willingness (albeit with lots and lots of reservations) to go along with his sister's plan, he agrees to go on a cross country road trip to see Dad.
This book could have easily been a road trip of two teenagers, a middle grader, and a pair of elementary aged twins. If this were a young adult novel, that's how this story would have gone — with the consequences coming at the end when they reunited with their adult family members. Even some middle grade road trips don't have reliable adult interventions — for instance Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White.
Instead, this book settles down to a more traditional road trip — with an RV — and a family friend with the ultimate goal to visit their father in Virginia. The itinerary along the way, for Charlie, is to track down the "someday birds" from the list he and his father made before he left for the photojournalism assignment in Afghanistan.
Charlie's itinerary includes stops that include Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks — one of two middle grade road trip books published in 2017 that do. I will be reviewing Out of Tune by Gail Nall at a later date. Charlie's journey, also includes mentorship from a wide variety of accomplished women — a nice detail, and something usual for the road narrative. They include an ornithologist, an astronomer, and a refugee.