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Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars
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Counting to Perfect: 01/31/20

Counting to Perfect

Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleur is about a younger sister coming to terms with being an aunt to her high school aged sister's daughter. Cassie had a routine: school, swim team, hanging with older sister Julia, dinners with her parents. Now she feels invisible. Everything now is about Julia and baby Addie.

The trouble isn't just in the home. It's Cassie's friends too. Some are reluctant to visit her home. Others are forbidden by their parents. There's a stigma around teenage mothers and everyone is acting like Cassie's going to next.

Summer vacation and things still haven't improved at home. Cassie has swim team but her schedule has to fit with Julia and Addie's. She feels burned out. She feels like she'll never be back to normal.

In all of this upset, though, Cassie knows one thing. She still loves her sister and she definitely loves her niece. This isn't a book about jealous. It's about burnout.

Julia when she turns eighteen decides she needs time away from her parents. She needs time to learn how to be Addie's mother without being mothered herself. With money loaned to her by Cassie, she buys a car and decides to set out on a roadtrip.

Because Cassie decides to go to with her sister and niece, the back half of his middle grade novel sits on the road narrative spectrum. The biggest question about Counting to Perfect's placement comes down to who are the travelers? Clearly Cassie is. Clearly Julie is. By themselves, they would be sibling travelers. But there is Addie. Does she count as a traveler?

Yes. Addie counts. Although she only has a few babbly lines near the end of the book, she is the point of the trip. Time on the road is time to bond with her and again as sisters. With Addie in the equation, the travelers are family (33).

The destination, while an unplanned one, and unnamed in the narrative, is a known one to the characters. It's something the parents back at home are tracking Julia, Cassie, and Addie's travels. Therefore, the destination isn't utopia. Instead I will go by the description: a lake up in the mountains somewhere. It is the wildlands (99).

The route the girls take is meandering and through rural and wild places. From the landscape and the small motels, I am inferring a Blue Highway (33) route.

Thus the bonding Cassie, her sister, and her niece do is the tale of family traveling to the wildlands via the Blue Highway (339933).

Four stars

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