The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93872-0 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93871-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93873-7 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
The summer before sixth grade will be Quinnen Donnelly’s first one without her older sister, Haley, who died in a car crash. Her parents are doing everything they [End Page 457] can to help her, and although Quinnen hasn’t been able to face rejoining her Little League team, the Donnellys hope that having a player from her beloved minor league team, the Bandits, stay with them for the season will be a pleasant distraction. Unfortunately, their guest, Brandon, seems too full of himself to bother with Quinnen, and his Dominican teammate, Hector, whom she much prefers, has been assigned to a different household. Even her one reliable delight, going to see the Bandits games, is ruined when she discovers Zack, Haley’s boyfriend who survived the accident, working the concession stand. Quinnen’s narration alternates between this summer’s and last summer’s events; as the tales converge, it becomes clear that she blames herself—not for the accident, but for having failed to reconcile fully with Haley after a petulant prank, and having choked during her Little League team’s championship game. Quinnen’s emotions are raw and convincing, and her rapport with friends and parents is realistically muddled by half-processed grief that she tries too hard to handle on her own. The supporting cast is credible, with parents who have limitless love for their remaining daughter, and Quinnen’s sixth-grade guy buddy who is sensitive to her heartache but is still a sixth-grade guy buddy. Even Brandon is a better man than Quinnen was first willing to believe. With appeal to both sports- and drama-minded girls, this will make a good book club selection and pass-it-among-your-friends read.