Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness.
When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.
With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.
But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Cindy Baldwin is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Where the Watermelons Grow is her debut novel. Learn more about Cindy at www.cindybaldwinbooks.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a fascinating book – it shows a family dealing with a member’s insanity, but in a middle grade context. It was an interesting concept, and one that was executed very well. It is obvious that Baldwin plotted this story out very carefully. The limited knowledge that Della has about schizophrenia only adds to the intensity of the story. She does not know why her mother is acting the way that she is and Della is frightened even more by her mother’s actions. Della’s lack of knowledge of the disease made the book feel much more emotionally charged, and real. Yet, the opposite is also true: Della new enough about schizophrenia (from her mother’s previous issue) that the book didn’t become some sort of dark despair novel. Baldwin wove an intricate balance of emotion. Kudos to Baldwin for being able to pull it off masterfully. The writing style is appropriate for younger kids, but the topic could be a little tough for some readers. I think this book would be a good read for children who know someone with schizophrenia as it may help them understand how people have dealt with schizophrenics a little, or teach them about the disease. This was one of the heavier middle grade novels I’ve read lately, but it wasn’t too dark. This was an interesting read, and I think people in search of different topics in their reading will enjoy this book. *Please note I received a free review copy of this book
This book left me warm and aglow and happy-sad—exactly how I like to leave a fabulous MG read. A gorgeous debut! With a strong sense of place and a narrator who turns everything around her vivid, Where the Watermelons Grow is a beautiful and sometimes heartrending exploration of what it's like when someone you love is chronically ill. Much of this novel is very quiet, with the sort of slow-rumbling build of other Southern MG classics like Because of Winn-Dixie. This might make the book a little difficult for reluctant readers, but it will richly reward those who want to sit with Della and learn what she has to say. I would especially recommend this to child (and/or friends of children) who are struggling with what it means to be or love someone who is chronically ill, particular someone who is ills in invisible ways.
This book is spectacular. Cindy tackles the issue of mental illness on a young family: its unpredictability, the stress, the emotions and how this illness affects everyone around them. This middle school novel is not just for children, it’s for anyone who has been touched by mental illness as Della’s father says it perfectly when he lies about his wife’s absence. “Lots of people, they don’t understand an illness like your mama’s, like schizophrenia. They hear that name and start to use hurtful words, like “crazy” and “psychotic” and start seeing a person as just a disease, not a human being.” So, they feel that it’s just better that they lie or not say anything about her condition. Eleven-year old Della would do anything to cure her mother. Della feels she’s at fault for her mother’s disease and since her mama won’t go to the doctor, she intends to cure her. She doesn’t just want the symptoms go away, like they have in the past, she wants a healthy mama. But as the days go by, it seems mama is getting worse. Della tries a variety of ways to cure her mama but mama’s behavior is worsening and she is being unpredictable. In an area where neighbors help neighbors, Della feels alone and scared as she knows she can’t reveal to anyone their family’s secret. Arden, her best friend, who knows a bit about the situation, carries the weight of secrecy and friendship, watching her friend suffer. I loved the Southern atmosphere of this novel where the community was positively involved in the lives of their neighbors. The concern for them yet the knowledge of knowing when to step away was felt as individuals drifted into Della’s family’s routine. The weight of responsibility that Della felt for her mother’s illness was heavy, yet that is how she felt as words of her mother’s illness were heard upon her ears. I felt for Della as she tried to help but it was like a losing battle. Her little sister was a handful and I had to laugh and shake my head at her adventures. I felt Mylie needed someone to take her out and just run with her: run and run and run! I loved the reference to the books as I read. Since I love The Graveyard Book, I was thrilled to see this book mentioned and how the character cited it. This book is filled with friendship, struggles, family, determination and love, it’s a book that you will not forget. I really enjoyed this book and feel that it’s a book that not only children will enjoy. “Sometimes when things are bad for me, books get to be some of my best friends.”
A lovely read about the difficulty of learning what we can and can't control--and being open to share our hearts no matter what.
There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a slice of juicy sweet watermelon, and it’s Della’s favorite fruit. She loves it so much she can practically eat a whole one all by herself. Her daddy grows just about the best watermelons in the world, but this year’s crop isn’t doing too well. Della and the rest of her family are having a very difficult summer. Between the scorching high temperatures and the withering drought, things have been pretty bad for the Kelly family. It seems like matters couldn’t get much worse, but then Mama starts acting really strange. This is a terrific novel for middle grade readers especially those whose families are dealing with mental illness. It’s all about Della, her thoughts, feelings and actions as she tries to cope with her mother’s illness. The author does a wonderful job of showing that the mentally ill deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity. She also shows that friends and family are there to turn to when life gets hard. I loved all of Della’s “other” mothers who helped her when things got really tough.