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Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe: 06/28/19

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl is the story of a girl trying to honor her mother's memory by finding the secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Her only clue is an old coin from a defunct company town. She sets out with her pockets full of stolen stacks, the old coin, and her father's guidebook.

Cricket's father has died. Her mother has run off. With no parent to care for her she is left with her aunt Belinda. Her moment to escape to find the painted room comes when she is accidentally left at the Cash 'n' Carry.

This middle grade novel is magical in its sense of place and discovery. Though Cricket has had a hard life, especially of recent, she remains optimistic. She is also resourceful and determined. It reminds me of Finding Fortune by Delia Ray (2015)

Cricket's journey to find the bird room is one that can be mapped through the road narrative spectrum. As she travels alone, has to steal food, and squat in old buildings, she is an orphan traveler (FF). Within the diegesis, she may also be a literal orphan as her mother's fate is unknown.

Her destination is a hidden room in an overgrown former company town. It's a ghost town. Cricket's goal is to uncover its past and connect with her mother at one of her happiest times. This nostalgia driven quest makes the destination a uhoric one (CC).

Finally her path there could seem like an offroad one as she's going through the forest that has grown up around the old town, she is wayfaring by her father's notes, clues found in the town, and her own memories of her mother's stories. As one clue leads to another and all spiral into her ultimate goal, the painted room, the route instead is a labyrinthine one (99).

Put all together, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe is the journey of an orphan through a labyrinth of clues to uhoria (FFCC99).

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 10:01:21

trin carl

Love middle grade every once in a while. Wrinkle in Time-my fav! This orphan story, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe sounds great. and what a great title!

Comment #2: Wednesday, July 03, 2019 at 19:12:00


Smack Dab.... is very different from A Wrinkle in Time. It's very good but very different.

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