“Finding Esme” by Suzanne Crowley
Source: I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Summary: After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor, Esme has avoided returning to the spot where he lost his life. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.
Esme sees the bones as a message from her grandfather; a connection beyond the grave. But when word gets out that Peach Hollow Farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme must find a way to understand who has her best interests at heart—especially as the memories of her grandfather begin to slip away.
Finding Esme is a real slice of small-town life. I’m just throwing that out there because not everyone enjoys quirky, southern turns of phrase. I, however, enjoyed it because it made the small town come to life and characters became people I know.
“Finding” has a big role in the story. Esme has an inkling of her grandma Bee’s ‘finding’ gift. They can find things (and people) for their friends and family. Finding Esme is a coming-of-age story so Esme is forced to think about how everything that is lost doesn’t necessarily need or want to be found. That’s a tough lesson to learn especially for a young girl. Then there’s Esme’s big find…dinosaur bones on her family farm.
I particularly enjoyed how Finding Esme had a timeless feel to the story. I initially thought it was a fairly contemporary story. There are mentions of phone booths and party lines that make you think it’s a historical novel. Then we have a mention of a tea cup pig that people get as pets which makes me think the story is a bit more modern. All these elements work together and allow the reader to place the story anytime in history they’d like. This works well and will allow the story to hold up in time.
All in all, Finding Esme is a charming Southern story about growing up. Perfect for young readers looking for magical realism, mysteries, and friendship.