Loose Threads


Seventh grader Kay Garber's happy home is made up of four generations of women: Great Gran Eula; Grandma Margie; Kay's mother, Karine; and Kay. But on the evening Grandma Margie tells her family she has a lump in her breast, Kay's world is changed forever.

Struggling with issues of popularity in junior high school, trying to understand her too-perfect mother, dealing with her feelings about friends, and coming to terms with Grandma Margie's cancer diagnosis and illness, Kay is ...

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Loose Threads

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Seventh grader Kay Garber's happy home is made up of four generations of women: Great Gran Eula; Grandma Margie; Kay's mother, Karine; and Kay. But on the evening Grandma Margie tells her family she has a lump in her breast, Kay's world is changed forever.

Struggling with issues of popularity in junior high school, trying to understand her too-perfect mother, dealing with her feelings about friends, and coming to terms with Grandma Margie's cancer diagnosis and illness, Kay is awhirl with questions that have no easy answers. But Kay is a survivor, and as she journeys through these difficult months she comes to a new understanding of the complexities and importance of faith and family.

Told through forthright and perceptive poems in Kay's own voice, Loose Threads reverberates with emotion and depth and will leave no reader untouched.

A series of poems describes how seventh-grader Kay Garber faces her grandmother's battle with breast cancer while living with her mother and great-grandmother and dealing with everyday junior high school concerns.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this hard-hitting debut novel, seventh-grade narrator Kay chronicles her grandmother's struggle against breast cancer in free-verse poems. The poetry tackles not only the tactile lumps and "wiggly, jiggly prostheses," but also the more abstract yet realistically sketched stages of denial, anger and grief. Kay's everyday junior high tribulations and insightful observations about friends, crushes and her difficulty coping provide a welcome counterpoint: "School rolls on./ Class after class./ Teachers give assignments./ It's so fake/ when real stuff is going on." Kay also pinpoints the differences between the four generations of women in her home: "Gran Eula/ is so harsh and strict./ Mom is such/ a perfectionist./ What/ are they about?/ It's Grandma Margie who/ is sweet." Grover effectively charts Kay's evolving strength, grace and faith, as her feelings of separateness cause her to befriend the class outcast, to hug her undemonstrative relatives and to tie up the titular loose threads by learning to knit, fight and eventually even let go of Grandma Margie. Throughout Kay offers her fierce, unsentimental perspective, such as at the funeral: "Why should I trust/ two guys with shovels/ who smoked, whispered, and chuckled/ the whole time/ our pastor was praying?" Any reader who has faced cancer, death or just struggled to define his or her own truth will respond to this memorable heroine and the novel's themes of loss, survival and remembrance. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When her grandmother is diagnosed with breast cancer, and throughout the months after, seventh-grader Kay feels the fabric of her family will soon unravel. How can she deal with this tragedy, along with her own preteen problems with school, boys, and friends. Through her narrative, this series of brief poems relays the emotions of four generations of women affected by Grandma Margie's announcement, subsequent mastectomy, chemotherapy, and death. While the subject of cancer is not trivialized, the somewhat stilted lines and poetic format take away from the story's immediacy. Readers are likely to want a stronger sense of Kay's relationship with her grandmother, but they are constantly distracted by poems that fail to illuminate that relationship or the protagonist's feelings. Character development is weak, and the author keeps readers at arm's length from caring about their situation. The poems are honest, however, tinged with the palpable angst that most teens would feel in these circumstances. This is a commendable, though not entirely successful effort, with a valuable resource list and bibliography of information about cancer. If a little awkward to read, this is still a useful resource to add to the canon of books needed on this important topic.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventh-grader Kay finds out more than she ever wanted to know about breast cancer in Grover's first effort, a fine entry in the emerging novel-in-verse subgenre. In a free-verse chronicle of several months, the author introduces readers to a four-generation household of strong female characters: Kay, who is struggling with adjustment to junior high, her perfectionist accountant mother, her warm and loving Grandma Margie, and her Great-Gran Eula, another perfectionist who owns the Florida home where the women live. The first-person poems from Kay's perspective follow Grandma Margie's crisis from the initial discovery of a lump through biopsy, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and then through the final weeks until her death. The last poems deal with the funeral, with Kay's anger at her grandmother's death, and with the reactions of the three surviving women as they begin to cope with the death and with their changed family dynamics. Other poems show Kay's growing maturity in coping with social issues in junior high and her questioning of her religious faith, juxtaposed with Grandma Margie's unshakable faith. Many painful topics are addressed frankly: mastectomy, breast prostheses, the side effects of chemotherapy, and potential links between insecticides and breast cancer. The use of the poetic format allows short, distilled views of Kay's world, while still offering all the character and plot development intrinsic to a novel for young adults. This compelling debut may offend some with its frankness, but many others will take it to heart for its many strengths. (author's note, Web sites, bibliography) (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416955627
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 5/3/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 484,071
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lorie Ann Grover attended the University of Miami. After school she lived with her husband, David, in South Korea, where she spent most of her time painting and writing poetry. The Grovers have two daughters, Emily and Ellen, and live in Sumner, Washington.
The author of Loose Threads, Lorie Ann was inspired to write On Pointe by her own experiences as a teenage member of the Miami Ballet Company.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2002

    A Heartfelt Journey and a Wonderful Read

    This was a great book. A touching account of a very difficult time. As I have gone through loosing someone that was very dear to me from cancer, I felt I could relate closely with the main character. This is a recommended read for anyone growing up or even growing older. It strikes a cord and brings one back to what is real and true in life.

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