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The Meaning of Maggie

The Meaning of Maggie

5.0 2
by Megan Jean Sovern

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As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it's been! During this period, she's Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder in Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year


As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it's been! During this period, she's Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder in Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year Maggie has to pull up her bootstraps (the family motto) and finally learn why her cool dude dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern, herself the daughter of a dad with multiple sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and assured prose of a new literary star.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maggie Mayfield aspires to be president one day, and she’s preparing by excelling at school, following the rules, and living by her family’s motto of pulling up one’s bootstraps when times get tough. Unbeknownst to Maggie, her 11th year is one of those times. The novel is structured as Maggie’s memoir, written one year later, as she recounts those tumultuous 12 months. Maggie knows that her father is ill (he requires a wheelchair ever since “his legs fell all the way asleep,” as Maggie puts it), but her family is shielding her from his diagnosis, a balancing act both they and first-time author Sovern pull off beautifully. Maggie (and readers) see hints of the grim reality, but it isn’t until halfway into the story that Maggie uncovers the full truth: multiple sclerosis. Although Sovern dials up Maggie’s precociousness a bit high (and the novel’s late 1980s setting seems entirely incidental), the author handles the topic of debilitating illness with a light touch in a story that’s heart-wrenching yet full of heart. Ages 8–12. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
"A character who's...tough to forget."—The Horn Book Magazine"

Written with skill and sensitivity, this precocious and poignant story of familial love will make good company for those readers dealing with health issues in their home lives, as well as those wanting a smart, refreshing voice to take them on a meaningful journey."-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review"

Wll inspire hours of great conversation for your readers. Maggie is a character they will admire and adore- we know we do!"—Teachers for Teachers"

This novel has VOICE in spades. Maggie is intelligent, self-aware, and humorous."—Middle Grade Mafioso"

This debut novel is perfect in every regard."—Books to Borrow... Books to Buy"

The must-read book of the summer!" -Annie Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA"

The Meaning of Maggie does for middle-grade fiction what John Green's The Fault in Our Stars did for teen literature: Both portray coping with serious illness as one aspect of a complex character, not as the single issue that defines them."—BookPage"

Smart, sensitive, sad and funny."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review"

Remarkable... Maggie makes us feel...everything...through our laughter and our tears. This is a marvelous middle grade book."—Librarian's Quest"

Refreshing, quirky, and honest."—Reading Today"

Readers will instantly fall in love with Maggie. Her narrative voice is smart, funny and clever, which makes her a highly entertaining, endearing, complex, triple threat."—The Children's Book Review"

Readers will appreciate Maggie's humor and rejoice in her growth. This is a remarkable story of a working-class family pulling together in the face of a serious illness."-School Library Journal, starred review"

One of the best middle-grade reads so far this summer is author Megan Jean Sovern's remarkable debut, The Meaning of Maggie ."—GeekMom"

Maggie, marches to her own beat, but she certainly charms readers."— Makin Books in Bloom"

Maggie is a firecracker character, one who sparkles with wit, cynicism, love, and potential. Her voice will charm and captivate readers."—Shelf Awarness"

Maggie is a firecracker character, one who sparkles with wit, cynicism, love and potential. Her voice will charm and captivate readers."—Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review"

In The Meaning of Maggie, Megan Jean Sovern has found a way to illuminate one family's struggle in the face of an impossible and incurable disease. She's done it with humor, wit, and heartache. And along the way, she's given us a character-Maggie-who is a joy to behold despite being stubborn, immature, and temperamental. There is hope here, and a great story to boot." —Kathi Appelt, author of National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book The Underneath"

Her endearing blend of innocence and burgeoning maturity as well as her diligence and work ethic made me wish I was her teacher. Her penchant for sweets and her love of reading made me wish I was her friend."—Two Writing Teachers"

Heart-wrenching yet full of heart."-Publishers Weekly"

Full of tender moments and light-hearted fun, this book is a poignant debut about growing up."—Library Media Connection"

An absolute start-to-finish delight... a book bound for glory."—Beth Kephart, author of Small Damages and National Book Award Finalist.

Children's Literature - Bonita Herold
Eleven-year-old Maggie has problems. Who doesn’t? She tries to keep her two sisters in line, she fights tooth and nail to remain tops in her class, and she struggles to understand why her mom and dad keep secrets from her. Maggie’s smart, but without the facts, she just does not know what to think about her dad’s legs permanently falling asleep. When an opportunity to research comes along in the way of a Science Fair project—just about her favorite thing to win in the whole world—Maggie decides that she needs to figure out what the “m” word stands for and what she can do to cure her dad. As she unearths more and more facts about her dad’s illness, Maggie realizes that she just cannot fix everything. Sovern successfully borrows from her life experience with her own “cool dude dad” who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Touching the heart, this novel appeals not only to young teenage girls, but women of all ages; everyone who reads it will clamor for more coming-of-age books by Sovern. An added bonus is that a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the book will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Reviewer: Bonita Herold; Ages 9 to 14.
School Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
Gr 4–7—In this humorous, fast-paced "memoir" set in Atlanta in the early 1990s, Maggie recounts the past "year that changed EVERYTHING!" She aspires to become President of the United States and continually mentions being an avid reader and excellent student. She struggles socially though, studying alone at lunchtime, not getting flowers on Valentine's Day, and procuring many teacher signatures in her yearbook, but very few from peers. On Maggie's 11th birthday, her father leaves his job as an airline ticket agent because his legs "won't wake up," (he is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis) and her mother begins full-time work as a domestic at an elegant hotel. Maggie has a caustic relationship with her older sisters who spend more time with hair, makeup, and boys than studies. She is determined to find a cure for her father, who falls out of his wheelchair, loses the ability to eat independently, suffers a seizure, and is hospitalized with a massive infection. As his multiple sclerosis worsens during the year, the fifth grader realizes how hard her mother works at her job and at home and that her mother and sisters have tried to shield her from the grim reality of her father's disease. Meanwhile, Maggie's parents tell stories of their adventuresome hippie pasts to encourage their daughters to live life to the fullest. They share their love of Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, and other bands of that era, and hold their family together with love, hard work, respect, and courage. Maggie learns that she can survive getting a B, run an entire mile, and bravely face her father's illness and extend support. Readers will appreciate Maggie's humor and rejoice in her growth. This is a remarkable story of a working-class family pulling together in the face of a serious illness.—Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-03-31
Based on the author's family's story, this novel mixes in equal thirds tears, wit and reassurance amid debilitating illness. The day her father "won't stop beeping," future president Maggie Mayfield begins a memoir of 1988, the year her "cool dude" dad's multiple sclerosis takes a turn for the worse. Her dad's MS is as much a presence as his love of Neil Young records; a scene of her mother brushing his teeth is as casual as a kiss on the cheek. Its progression hits hard—suddenly, her dad is unemployed and her mother is exhausted, while her older sisters mess with makeup and boys. Maggie vows to fix her father, but her hardest lesson may be that she can't; the collision of her bookishness against her dad's unknowable prognosis is bound to elicit tears (aka "brain sweat"). Tough family bonds ground the story, even under stress, and Maggie's quirky everyday observations and sibling squabbles relieve tension. Maggie writes of a book that "[b]y the time you reach the end of the chapter, you realize you've highlighted every single word because every single word was really important." Smart, sensitive, sad and funny, Maggie's memoir reads the same way. More than an issue novel, Sovern's debut will be a boon to kids coping with a parent's illness or the unpredictability of growing up. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Megan Jean Sovern is an award-winning copywriter at a major advertising agency. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This is her debut novel.

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The Meaning of Maggie 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
Maggie, a super-smart, very organized, overachieving 11-year-old, was shocked. Her dad had quit his job after his legs “fell asleep” (as Maggie calls it), and their mom had gotten a job. Her dad stays at home, in a wheel chair, working around the house. It is a new scenario for Maggie. She isn’t used to her dad being around all the time, and her mom working. When her science project approached, she decided to do it on what had made her dad’s legs fall asleep – multiple sclerosis. Maggie is determined to find a cure for her dad’s disease. What she finds out is how great her family really is and she can survive getting a ‘B’ in school. First of all I’ll say I am a bit bias on this book. The “super-smart, very organized, overachieving 11-year-old” in my description above – sounds a lot like me (only I’m 12 – but just go back a year). Speaking as a “precocious” kid (as I am tired of being called), Ms. Sovern has gotten Maggie’s personality down pat. I felt like I was with her the whole entire time, cheering her on! I like the sibling rivalry between Maggie and her sisters. It felt like a real situation and the characters were believable. I think this is another one of those “Crossover” books – one written on a YA reading level but the story is more for advanced middle-grade readers (as an advanced middle-grade reader, this makes me more bias ;) ). The book ends extremely well, and although there are some loose ends, they are the right kind that leaves you thinking about what happens next, but you know the characters will be okay. I think that Ms. Sovern has a very distinct writing voice. I would read other books by her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!!! A must read for everyone!!!