Counting Thyme

Counting Thyme

by Melanie Conklin


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Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399173301
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 163,136
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and all-around lover of books and those who create them. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with her husband and two small maniacs. Melanie spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail. Counting Thyme is her debut novel.

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Counting Thyme 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave my daughter this for her birthday and she loved it. she would stay up to 1 am just to finish a chapter. I was happy to see her reading instead of watching youtube. she said it was inspiring to her and I was going to buy her a nother book like this one
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
Oh, this book. Sometimes when I read a book I love, I want to stop every few paragraphs and tell the world about it. And sometimes when I read a book that captures my heart, I want to hold it close and tell no one about it as I lose myself in the story. The characters speak to me so strongly that I don’t want to share them. Counting Thyme is one of the latter. The moment I met eleven-year-old Thyme - struggling to be okay in New York City when her whole life is thousands of miles away, feeling overlooked as her family struggles to deal with her brother’s cancer, resisting making a place for herself in her new home while still being drawn into her new life – I connected with this thoughtful protagonist. Thyme wants the things all young people want: friends, a happy family, a place in the world. She wants to count. And watching her navigate new relationships and changing old ones, all the time with the specter of her brother’s illness hanging over her, was a deeply moving experience. If you’re expecting a “sad cancer book” full of noble suffering and platitudes, think again. Yes, Thyme’s little brother has cancer, and yes, that affects the lives of her whole family. Sometimes they don’t react to their fear in brave or noble ways, but every piece of the story rings with truth. The ending had me in tears, but not for the reasons I expected. It affected me so deeply because of the way the emotions were beautifully earned by the characters and the intertwining threads of the story. This is not a sad book, not by a long shot – this is a story of hope and love and finding your place. Thyme’s story will stick with me for a long time.
HSMeloche More than 1 year ago
COUNTING THYME will grip your heart with a story and main character that are completely relatable. Thyme's younger brother, Val, is a cancer patient but has luckily been accepted into an experimental medical protocol that could keep him cancer-free. The problem: the family lives in California and the treatment is in New York City. Thyme is a good-hearted, loyal character, who would do anything for her brother, so she's all on board as her family moves away from her best friend, her grandma, and everything she knows in order to restart in New York. It's supposed to be a temporary relocation, just until the treatment is done, but as more and more time progresses in their new home, she doesn't know if she should invest in her new friends and her new life or continue to hope her family will ultimately move back. Also, her parents' focus on Val and his illness and away from her makes this even more confusing for her. Thyme wants to do what's right for her brother, but she struggles, as any 6th grader would, with putting her own happiness on the back burner for his health. Conklin offers readers a sweet story about the bittersweet balance between self-interests and the needs of the family we love.
KarenHallam More than 1 year ago
This story was very special, heart-rending, realistic, and beautifully written. Twelve-year-old Thyme has moved to New York City, leaving her friends and Grandmother behind in San Diego. She longs to return. She saves her slips of time to return and plans to get back to her best friend and grandmother no matter what. She has a plan. Except, she’d have to leave her father, mother, teenage sister, and her five-year-old brother, who’s undergoing cancer treatment for neuroblastoma behind. She struggles with this. Thyme loves her brother, and he needs her, she’s the one he talks to. At least, they won’t be in New York City much longer, thank goodness. The apartment is terribly small, not like her house in San Diego. There are grouchy neighbors, stinky subways, and her parents never seem to hear her anymore. Then there’s public school. It does offer a few distractions, with the new friends she’s met and the approaching talent show. She doesn’t want to tell anyone about her brother and risk having them feel sorry for her. Thyme is one tough and loveable kid. She bares much through the trials her brother goes through. Such a tough subject, written clearly and deftly; explaining much about the type of cancer and the experience Thyme’s brother goes through. It will rip your heart out. But there’s hope and a lot of love. I wanted to underline over half the book. There's so much to relate to, so many emotions. One of my favorite Middle-Grade reads this year, a classic in the making.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! While it deals with a difficult topic--childhood cancer from the sibling's perspective--the story has such strong underlying plots and themes that it becomes broadly relatable. As someone who moved around a lot growing up, I really identified with Thyme's transition to her new home in New York and the inner struggle of trying to cling to what you left behind while trying to build something new and the guilt and longing that comes on both sides of that. I particularly admire how the author portrayed Thyme, a middle child, someone who would rather work backstage than pursue the lead part, as she slips into the background of a family in crisis. Also, I loved the juxtaposition of the priorities of Thyme's day-to-day life--crushes, old and new friends, school dynamics--against the family's priorities--the youngest child's illness--and how the author showed how both were so important.
MsVerbose More than 1 year ago
Somehow my original review of this one was erased, but I received an ARC of this one in exchange for an honest review, and I LOVED it! What an amazing book. When Thyme's little brother is accepted into a cancer drug trial, her family moves across the country from CA to NY to support him. And while Thyme is rooting for her brother and the success of this trial, she's mourning her life that she had to give up to move. Her home. Her best friend. Her grandmother who used to live nearby. And so she has a plan. And a timeline. This book is a touching depiction of how families sacrifice and work together to overcome hard things. It's about how kids face the hard stuff the best they can, and how none of us are an island . . . we all need each other. I laughed. I cried. I didn't want the book to end. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There was so much I loved about this book. The characters all have their own personalities, quirks, and lovable traits. Some of them appear most often in the serious parts of the story, while others lighten things up just when you need it. We get to know Thyme so well and experience the up and down emotions she goes through. And you'll learn the double meaning of the title, which also gives you an inside glimpse into her heart. This was an emotional read for me with cancer being such a big part of the story, but as much as this did make me cry, the author managed to show hope through Thyme's family and the new friends she encounters. There were so many times I laughed in the midst of it all. I can't tell you my favorite part of the book until you read it, but it was one of the most powerful lines I’ve read in a long time.
QuinnenDonnelly More than 1 year ago
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a sucker for any book that’ll give me the feels. My debut is, admittedly, a tearjerker, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I was drawn to another middle grade tearjerker, Melanie Conklin‘s debut Counting Thyme. Eleven-year-old Thyme Owens has just left her beloved home (and grandmother, and best friend) behind in San Diego, and moved to the Big Apple. But her eyes aren’t starry with dreams of Broadway and everything else that New York City has to offer; Thyme is here for a different reason. Her younger brother Val (short for Valerian) has been accepted to be part of a drug trial to treat his neuroblastoma, a nerve cancer. Thyme doesn’t know how long they’ll be staying in NYC, but she has her eyes set on a quick return. The two things she most wants pull her in opposite directions. Val getting better, and a return home; can she have them both? In a way, she thinks she can. The thing is, Mom’s been giving her little slips of paper for “time” — free passes for a half hour, an hour, etc. — for her to do whatever she wants, a counterbalance for how much of her family’s time is consumed by care for Val. Thyme collects all these slips in a glass jar, hoping beyond hope that she can amass enough “time” to go back to San Diego. To go back home. Meanwhile, a life in New York city beckons. There’s a new school. New potential friends. A cute boy in class. A crotchety downstairs neighbor with a cockatoo. Ravioli — ahem, Mrs. Ravelli. The school play, The Wizard of Oz, and being in the sound crew with said cute boy. Is Thyme just biding her time? Or could she possibly find a new life here in New York City? I boarded my cross-country flight this morning with one goal. I was going to read Counting Thyme on this flight and it was going to help me pass the time! Oh, did it. As I sniffled my way through the flight — eventually I had to ask a flight attendant for some napkins to use in lieu of tissues — I became so deeply concerned with Thyme’s family, especially Thyme and Val. My heart ached for Thyme as she so often put herself second in caring for her little brother. Conklin does an amazing job of authentically portraying Thyme’s whole world, from her NYC apartment building life to the middle school experience to her sometimes fraught relationship with her older sister Cori (short for Coriander). This family felt so real for me, which of course is what led to the sniffling. Thyme is self-deprecating and funny, sometimes brave, sometime shy and awkward, but full of love and hope and fear. The fear of losing Val, of Val ending up in the hospital, of his body resisting the trial — all of that is always there, always simmering beneath the surface. Though Thyme keeps her real reason for being in NYC a secret from her peers at school, she can never keep the truth far from her own mind. This book imparted on me such a strong sense of the impact a child’s cancer can have on every member of the family, and of the varying personal reactions to this experience. Highly, highly recommended!
MGReader More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, with complex and captivating characters. Thyme Owens, the narrator, is dealing with the regular stuff of starting a new middle school — making friends, first crushes, and finding herself. But she's also dealing with an enormous family problem, and the reason they moved in the first place: her little brother has cancer, and they moved for his treatment. Thyme has to navigate petty disagreements among friends, boys, and school all while dealing with a terrible case of homesickness and the crushing fear that her brother won't survive. I especially liked the many interesting characters in this book, not only Thyme and her friends, but her flawed family, and a couple of wacky neighbors. I loved how all the characters were three dimensional with their own moods, goals, and internal stories. The author also has a wonderful way of capturing feelings, especially tough ones, in simple but meaningful words. A great read, for kids and adults alike. (I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)