The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James
The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James
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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Sunny St. James must navigate heart surgery, reconnections with a lost mother, the betrayal of a former best friend, first kisses, and emerging feelings for another girl.
Catalog Number: #181948
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 375 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: 0-316-51553-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-316-51553-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018017613
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Sunny St. James has just had a heart transplant and is ready to take three crucial steps into her New Life. Step No. 1: Do "awesome amazing things" her cardiomyopathy kept her from doing. Step No. 2: "Find a new best friend" to replace Margot, who betrayed her trust. Step No. 3: "Find a boy" to kiss, "because kisses." Sunny achieves the first two steps almost simultaneously: She goes swimming in the ocean for the first time since her diagnosis and she meets blue-haired Quinn Ríos Rivera, and the two agree to be best friends. The third proves to be difficult, because Sunny finds she doesn't want to kiss a boy. She wants to kiss Quinn. Sunny's struggles are numerous but well-balanced and never overwhelm readers. The 12-year-old's mother, Lena, who gave Sunny to her best friend, Kate, to raise eight years ago, is ready to be part of Sunny's life. Sunny isn't sure she wants to know Lena, a recovering alcoholic. She's also uncertain as to which feelings are hers and which ones belong to her unknown heart donor, but her thoughtful, present-tense voice as she parses these feelings is all hers. Quinn is Puerto Rican; Kate's boyfriend is black; and Lena's husband is South Asian. Assume whiteness for everyone else.A sweet and gentle story of self-discovery and a beautiful addition to the growing genre of middle-grade realism featuring girls who like girls. (Fiction. 8-13)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* A heart transplant kicks off a summer of self-discovery for rising seventh-grader Sunny St. James, whose greatest fear was dying before her first kiss. Blessed with a new heart and a new BFF in Quinn, a recent transplant to Juniper Island, she's on a mission to kiss a boy. Except she's not really sure it's a boy she wants to kiss. Complicating matters is the return of her birth mother, Lena, who left Sunny with her best friend Kate when she was only four years old and has been incommunicado since. Lena introduces Sunny to surfing, an activity that's been grounding for the recovering alcoholic. Sunny falls hard for the surfing and Lena, only to be upended when she discovers what Lena's kept a secret: the family she's grown in the years since leaving Sunny. Like Blake's acclaimed middle-grade debut, Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World? (2018), this is an accomplished, layered, moving story featuring a girl questioning her sexuality. Enhancing the story are the larger questions Sunny grapples with, from what makes a good friend to whether or not her new heart meone else's heart s fundamentally changed who she is. With the need for more LGBTQ fiction for upper-elementary and middle schools, this is a welcome addition. Big-hearted in every way.
Word Count: 77,402
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 500433 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.0 / points:15.0 / quiz:Q76732
Lexile: 690L

Twelve-year-old Sunny St. James navigates heart surgery, reconnecting with her lost mother, first kisses, and emerging feelings for another girl in this stunning, heartfelt novel--perfect for fans of Ali Benjamin and Erin Entrada Kelly.


When Sunny St. James receives a new heart, she decides to set off on a "New Life Plan": 1) do awesome amazing things she could never do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) kiss a boy for the first time.

Her "New Life Plan" seems to be racing forward, but when she meets her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy at all. With the reemergence of her mother, Sunny begins a journey to becoming the new Sunny St. James.

This sweet, tender novel dares readers to find the might in their own hearts.


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