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Book Review: If You Read This by Kereen Getten (Pushkin Press)

Cover illustration by Erick Davila

Cover design by Suzanne Lee


For ages 9+


Birmingham-based author, Kereen Getten has been pretty busy since the publication of her first children’s middle grade in October 2020; ‘When Life Gives You Mangoes’ was one of my books of the year! Since then Kereen has written non-fiction, short stories and reading books for schools. ‘If You Read This’ is her second middle grade for Pushkin Press.



In her first novel, I was transported to a Jamaica-esq Caribbean island for an unforgettable adventure with a jaw-dropping twist at the end. Again, I find myself back in familiar country, as is the inspiration for her books having grown up in Jamaica. As with Kereen's first middle grade, her writing style evokes the warmth and colour of the native countryside, cooking and culture within the lines of her text so deftly.


About the book

Our female protagonist is schoolgirl, Brie. Brie lives with her Papa and Nana on a holiday resort complex. Her Papa is a manager there, now widowed, he spends most of his time in the office. We are told that Brie’s Mama was a larger than life, colourful, loud and laughter-filled lady when she was alive - at best unpredictable, but with a beautiful soul and she had so much love inside her. There was no way life was going to pass her by. Sadly she became sick with cancer and died, and it turned Brie’s life upside down.


The story starts on Brie’s 12th birthday, with lots of fuss and fanfare organised by Nana and Brie’s dotting Aunty Elsa and Uncle Julius, plus her best friends Smiley and Femi for company. Her Papa was no-where to be seen, working late, perhaps he forgets her birthday. It’s devastating for Brie. With everyone hushed to silence, Nana gives Brie a very special gift… a box… containing letters… from her Mama.

In this entirely aptly named story, you will join Brie, her friends and her family on a trip to Brim’s Island; the magical family home of Brie’s Mama, where there is a mystery to be solved by following the clues in a sequence of handwritten letters...a posthumous treasure hunt.


This is a hugely enjoyable read, at 188 pages also not daunting for a middle grade reader who isn’t up to much thicker books. Packed full of sleuthing and sometimes a giggle here and there, the author has welcomed the reader into her world of memories and imagination that will warm your heart, particularly as Brie and her Papa struggle to rekindle their father-daughter relationship. Brie misses her Mama so very much, and with this special quest, she finds a space to grieve and the key to feel happiness at last.


I truly love Kereen's writing, and I imagine her to be a fun, deep and quirky individual with stories for days... very much looking forward to the next middle grade adventure!!


Teachers notes


Download here:

https://pushkinpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/If-You-Read-This-teachers-notes.pdf


About the creators


Kereen Getten (author)

Kereen Getten grew up in Jamaica but now lives in Birmingham with her family. When not writing you can find her out in nature, planning her next travel adventure, or watching Netflix.

Website: https://kereengetten.com


Erick Davila (illustrator)


Erick Davila is a New York based graphic artist focused on fashion and beauty illustration.


Website: https://www.erickdavila.com


Key themes


grief

families

friendship

Jamaica

mystery solving


Grab a copy


Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...

Publication date: 1 September 2022

Format: Paperback


Also by Kereen Getten:

'When Life Gives You Mangoes' (2020, Pushkin Press)


Please like this post and leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!

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