Kay, a 7th grader, lives with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is particularly attached to her grandmother, who is diagnosed with breast cancer. Kay’s subsequent waves of response to Grandma Margie’s illness include denial, fear, withdrawal from friends, discovery of a new friend whose mother, it turns out, died of cancer, and discovery of new kinds of intimacy with her mother and great-grandmother. During the illness her grandmother teaches her to knit--one last gift before she dies. After her grandmother’s death, she finds herself a little more grown up, recognizing in herself some of her grandmother’s features and habits, and reclaiming her own life on new terms.


The whole narrative is written in short poem-like sequences in the first person from Kay’s point of view. The form lends itself nicely to conveying the varying moods and sometimes sharp shifts of tone that characterize Kay’s thoughts and feelings during the family crisis. Strong focus on her interior life puts outer events very much in the background. An end note by the author discloses the autobiographical nature of the story, after which resources for cancer patients and caregivers are listed. Useful for young people feeling isolated and disoriented by family illness.


Margaret K. McElderry Books

Place Published

New York



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