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See You at Harry's

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Overview

Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off ...

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Overview

Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Sit back in a comfortable chair, bring on the Kleenex and cry your heart out... Prescient writing, fully developed characters and completely, tragically believable situations elevate this sad, gripping tale to a must-read level.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

SEE YOU AT HARRY'S offers, on the one hand, a deft and delicate handling of commonplace traumas — how to negotiate bullying on the school bus, what it means for everyone in a family when a teenager comes to terms with his sexuality — and, on the other, the enormous and mercifully rare drama of a child’s accidental death. And while the distinction between these narrative elements — their disparate weights — may seem to an adult huge, Knowles is aware that a child’s perspective is somewhat different.
—The New York Times

This novel is reminiscent of classics like LITTLE WOMEN in its exploration of the often difficult, always powerful bond among siblings. Despite its classic, timeless themes, however, it also touches on such contemporary issues as the dangers of bullying and sexual orientation... Young readers will eagerly turn the pages of this perfectly paced novel and will care deeply about what happens to Fern and her siblings. The story is so authentic and captivating that readers will come to love Fern’s family and feel a part of it. When tragedy strikes, readers will feel the blow almost as intensely as the family does. Readers will savor every bite of this bittersweet novel.
—VOYA

Sometimes your heart has to break before it can heal. SEE YOU AT HARRY'S will make you weep, but it will also fill your soul with the extravagant gift of love. This may be the most beautiful book ever.
—Lauren Myracle

Heart-breaking, soul-sustaining, and all-around beautiful.
—Rebecca Stead

SEE YOU AT HARRY'S is one of the most beautiful, moving books I've ever read. Full of laughter, love, and tears, it will break your heart and put it back together again, with a little more light, a little more hope than there was before.
—Kate Messner

This story of an imperfect but loving family and how it holds together through shattering tragedy as well as everyday complications is full of true heart. Jo Knowles' love for her characters shines through on every page.
—Sara Zarr

SEE YOU AT HARRY'S is a beautiful, deeply moving story-one never shying from the flawed truths that come from being part of a big, messy family. I finished the book the way I do every Jo Knowles novel: holding it close, not wanting to let go.
—Nova Ren Suma

Jo Knowles writes a family you know in your bones-their routines, rituals, petty gripes, recurring jokes-which is why it about kills you when something equally real and terribly unexpected threatens their very existence as a family. Thankfully, Knowles brings hope-first a flicker, then a big, booming beacon of it. I loved it.
—Linda Urban

Jo Knowles has crafted a shimmering, pitch-perfect novel of love, loss, and resilience which finds the beauty in the small joys of everyday living, the comfort in the often-infuriating bonds of family, and the gentle hope that grows from the heartbreak of tragedy. Beautiful and life-affirming.
—Libba Bray

The New York Times Book Review
[Knowles's] new book…offers, on the one hand, a deft and delicate handling of commonplace traumas—how to negotiate bullying on the school bus, what it means for everyone in a family when a teenager comes to terms with his sexuality—and, on the other, the enormous and mercifully rare drama of a child's accidental death. And while the distinction between these narrative elements—their disparate weights—may seem to an adult huge, Knowles is aware that a child's perspective is somewhat different.
—Claire Messud
Publishers Weekly
Twelve-year-old Fern's family members are so consumed with their own lives that Fern often feels overlooked. She has a lot on her plate, dealing with her annoying three-year-old brother, Charlie, and tart-tongued sister, Sara, as well as being publically embarrassed by her father's overzealous marketing for their family restaurant, Harry's. Additionally, Fern's mother often disappears to meditate, while older brother Holden—who is being bullied at school and is struggling over whether to come out as gay—pushes Fern away. Things become nearly unbearable when Fern blames herself for a tragic accident that rocks the family to its core. Luckily, Fern's closest friend, the perpetually serene Ran, and, indeed, her family help her find a glimmer of hope amid powerful grief. Through the eyes of Fern, Knowles (Lessons from a Dead Girl) introduces a cast of distinct, fully developed characters who exhibit authentic emotions, foibles, and expressions of love. Readers will feel deeply for the family in the aftermath of the plot's heart-wrenching turn, which pulls them closer together. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (May)
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
The reader follows 12-year-old Fern through the trials of adolescence in this story as he/she shares her journey from her family's heartbreak of tragedy to hope again. How does this young girl, who feels invisible and forgotten, cope with the world which swirls around her? Dad is busy with the family's restaurant business, and Mom is always meditating. Her older sister, Sara, is filling in a gap year since she didn't get accepted to the college of her choice. Her brother, Holden, struggles with his sexual identity. The three-year-old, Charlie, is the delight of the family, and the only family member who pays any attention to Fern. The author shows the family dynamics well—those between parents and child and those between siblings—and helps the reader to enter their world. The background in the story of Fern's parents being in the restaurant business is from the author's own family experience, and is portrayed realistically. Fern's first person narration gives a sense of immediacy to the story. In the end, it is the family's love that helps them to survive and heal from their tragedy. The author was the recipient of the 2005 PEN Literary Award. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
VOYA - Jess deCourcy Hinds
Being in a big family can be lonely. Twelve-year-old Fern's siblings range in age from toddler to high school grad, and she is always in the middle of things but somehow never noticed. It does not help that she has to work at her family's business, Harry's Ice-Cream Parlor, an all-consuming enterprise. Fern aches to forge her own identity and spend more time with friends like Ran, a serene, poetic boy; however, she is always being pulled back into ice-cream parlor drama—and before she knows it, a terrible tragedy forces her to draw even closer to the family she longs to escape. This novel is reminiscent of classics like Little Women in its exploration of the often difficult, always powerful bond among siblings. Despite its classic, timeless themes, however, it also touches on such contemporary issues as the dangers of bullying and sexual orientation. The novel's plots are highly structured, yet the story seems to unfold in a loose, organic way. Young readers will eagerly turn the pages of this perfectly paced novel and will care deeply about what happens to Fern and her siblings. The story is so authentic and captivating that readers will come to love Fern's family and feel a part of it. When tragedy strikes, readers will feel the blow almost as intensely as the family does. Readers will savor every bite of this bittersweet novel. Reviewer: Jess deCourcy Hinds
VOYA - Gabriella Chu
Themes of love, family, and identity strongly resonate with the reader because they are relatable subjects. Knowles's writing style makes the book a fast page-turner, and each chapter ends with an intriguing statement that leaves you wanting to know what happens next. The characters are strongly developed and inspirational, particularly Fern, since any tween or teen can identify with the problems she faces at home and school. Although See You at Harry's is a simple story, it is a thought-provoking book that will reach into your heart. Reviewer: Gabriella Chu, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Fern often feels invisible in her bustling family. Because of the restaurant her parents run, her teenage sister's angst, her gay older brother's struggle with bullies, and the incessant cuteness of her little brother, Charlie, there isn't a lot of attention left for a quiet, literary sixth grader. She isn't invisible at school, but that's just because everyone has seen the supremely embarrassing, cheesy commercial her father forced the entire family to star in. Fern finds some solace in her friendship with Ran, who repeatedly assures her that "all will be well," but this mantra proves untrue when Charlie is struck by a car while in Fern's care. Though initially appearing unharmed, his internal injuries prove fatal, and Fern must come to terms with her loss and feelings of guilt while struggling to find her place in her family and in the wider world. Knowles paints a moving and authentic picture of a family grieving, but readers may be put off by the repetitiveness of the plot elements that at times bog down the pacing. However, the book might appeal to precocious readers who will enjoy Knowles's allusions to literary characters and use of rich vocabulary. Additionally, See You at Harry's will fill a niche for those seeking works with a gay character in which his sexuality is not the main focus of the book.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews
Sit back in a comfortable chair, bring on the Kleenex and cry your heart out. Seventh grader Fern, in pitch-perfect present tense, relates the dual tragedies of her family. Her high-school–freshman older brother Holden has come to the place in his life where he's acknowledged that he's gay and is taking the first painful, unsteady steps out into a less-than-fully-accepting world. Fern offers him support and love, but what she can give is not always what he needs. Their older sister, Sara, spending a frustrating gap year after high school supposedly helping with the family restaurant, makes life hard for everyone with her critical eye and often unkind comments. And then there's 3-year-old Charlie, always messy, often annoying, but deeply loved. Fern's busy, distracted parents leave all of the kids wanting for more attention--until a tragic accident tears the family apart. The pain they experience after the calamity is vividly, agonizingly portrayed and never maudlin. Eventually there are tiny hints of brightness to relieve the gloom: the wisdom of Fern's friend Ran, the ways that Sara, Fern and Holden find to support each other and their thoughtfully depicted, ever-so-gradual healing as they rediscover the strength of family. Prescient writing, fully developed characters and completely, tragically believable situations elevate this sad, gripping tale to a must-read level. (Fiction. 11 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664558
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 61,982
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: HL600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jo Knowles is the author of the YA novels Lessons from a Dead Girl and Jumping Off Swings. The recipient of the 2005 PEN Literary Award, she lives in Vermont.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully composed tragic story for MG readers

    This is really a great read that I think a lot of MG readers will enjoy. It deals with a lot of the emotions of being a 12 year old just starting middle school, family dynamics, and the grieving process. When I started this one, I don't think I was fully prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride that it was going to take me on. So, while I definitely don't want to spoil anything for you (and I hope you don't find spoilers anywhere else), definitely be prepared for a few moments of truly devastating grief.

    Fern is a very realistically written 12-year-old, with the common insecurities that many kids feel at that age. Older siblings create havoc that gets them notices; younger siblings get all the love and attention. New schools, new people, changing friends. It's easy to feel invisible. I thought Fern gave readers a very realistic look at the emotions that you deal with at that age--you do a lot of growing up right around the time in life.

    The tragedy that rocks Fern's family--I didn't see that coming at all! I mean, obviously you knew that something was going to happen, but the tragic event really creeps up on you. It is the kind of event that is accompanied by painful emotions and tears (well, if you're like me, then there are probably at least a new tears). The character development and family dynamics shift in unexpected ways as a result and it added a whole extra layer to the story.

    See You At Harry's tackles the topic of dealing with tragedy quite masterfully. While this isn't the sort of book that every 10-12 year old will thoroughly enjoy, I think that there are probably a decent number of middle grade age kids dealing with these types of emotions and this book would be a perfect companion.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Chapter by Chapter's review of See You At Harry's

    This book killed me…KILLED ME! I seriously could not stop crying. Even after finishing the book, and getting ready to fall asleep, I was still crying. This is one book that will remain in my mind and heart for a while.

    Basically, it’s a coming of age story that revolves around the life of 12 year old Fern, who has to deal with a work obsessed father, a mother who isn’t really present, and a brother who is just coming out of the closet. We follow Fern and watch as she deals with the dilemmas in her family, and experience what she is going through.

    The first half of the book builds the backdrop of what Fern goes through oh a day to day basis. Not only do we see what she is feeling and going through, but we also get to see Fern experience the duress her brother Holden goes through on a daily basis from fellow school mates due to the fact that he is gay. After deciding to stick up for her brother, Fern has to now go through the teasing and violence that Holden goes through. We also watch as Fern is pretty much the one who is responsible for the care of her little 3 year old brother, Charlie. We see the love of a family and the pressure of responsibility, and its toll it takes on this family.

    After a devastating and tragic incident, we see how much it affects Fern and her family, and the strength that they will need to find to pull through together. It was at this point, which is about half way through the book, where I pretty much lost it. I cried at pretty much every chapter. Once I thought that the tears were over, something else would happen or would be said, and I would cry all over again.

    The writing style of Jo Knowles is unforgettable. Knowles’ character building and story building had me so engrossed that I felt as though I were part of this family, and experiencing everything with them. Knowles broke my heart over and over again. I think what made it all the more “real” for me was the fact that Fern and Charlie were pretty much the same age gap as my two kids, and just reading their interactions and the emotion that poured out of the words was just too much for me. I broke down. To read Fern’s pleas to her mother were heart wrenching. I could literally hear the strain and desperation in her voice as I read. I could picture every detail in vivid detail.

    If you are looking for a quick read that will remain embedded in your heart, I would recommend grabbing a copy of See You At Harry’s.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    Nice

    I really felt like I was the character. The way she described her family is really nice. Her personality is nice also

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    RIPOFF

    You can go buy this book at B&N for $6.99. I agree this is a good book, but the book is a ripoff on here! Do Not wate $3.00 on thus book, that could get you a whole diffrent book!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    Yout Your stupid

    This goes to the person that spoiled the book for everyone. Some people actually like to read and you spoiled it for everyone so thanks a lot.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    A True Phenominome

    This book I must say is a true "book" some people say Twighlight is the " best book ever " but See You at Harrys is a real book. It warms everyones hearts and moves me inside the book. 5 stars all the way Jo Knowles you have tried and sucseeded . You stole everyones hearts by writing a few words about a girl... Fern, an average 12 year old girl who is going through exactly what im going through. We both just started Midd. school and we both have the same feelings.we conect in so many ways possible. This book is nothing compared to, twilight, the sister hood of the traveling pants, hunger games. wanna know why? this book has meaning.... a TRUE meaning. Now when your reading this book remember to slowly let it sink in. Youd be suprised how this book connects with you!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    One of the best books in the world!!

    I loved this book so much!! It was SO sad and you definatly feel the charcters emotions. I recommend this book to middle schoolers or 3rd-4rth grade kids. Plus this book is on the 2013-2014 DCF list!! Highly recommended!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Please answer!

    What was the tragic accident? Reply to kat :)

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Amazing

    I loved everything about this book and it still made me cry. See you at Hawee's!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Incredible

    I loved charlie although he was annoying at times to fern. It was sad what happened to charlie and then what happened to their family. I hope that they will find closure more later on:)

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2014

    Amazing

    I loved this book so much! It broke my heart then put it back together in stunning beauty. I loved this book, and while it was sad, a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    DAKOTA JENKINS

    I found this book in my class room libary and though it would be fun to read but no i could not crying at school and Im 12 years old and I have a little sister i dont what i would do with out her and she is the same way charlie is in the book.
    But every time I start crying i have to stop for a little bit then i start reading again omg I think i cry like a big baby but i give the book five stars because i loved it so much i think i ask my teacher if i could keep it because how much i Loved it and u would to u should read it for your self and see why people cry while reading this book.
    After i read the book i thought to myself that this was better then a movie and it was.
    SO FIVE STARS TO THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    sad tory bro

    Don't read this with no tissues by your side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Highly recomend

    Very good book. It was full of heart felt at the end. It had me crying. This was truly a graet book. Recomended for 4-9 graders because of some situation that most people would take imaturely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    I LOVE IT

    i read this book in 5th grade and i loved it so much i read it again in 6th grade BEST BOOK EVER

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    Puddles For Eternity

    I was crying throughout mist of the book. Its also my new favorite book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Best Book Ever!!!!!

    I recomend this book to every one! It is my new favorite book! But be prepared to cry!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Really good but sad book

    This book is really good b

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

    Best bookk ever

    This book is the best book I have ever read.Ican make alot of connections.My first conection is my brother had died too and I just started Middle School too.I have an Ice cream shop too.I can make so much more connectons too.Hope u liked the book too :) <3

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    oOM? OH MY GOD

    I love love love this book. You could feel the emotion. I also loved it soooo much becuase i could relate too it. I was going though deeeep depression ( still kinda am) but im recovering. Th is book teaches me that everything will get better when your in need or depressed or even sad. <3

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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