I was listening to talk of this upcoming book some time ago, and it really resonated with me. I connected with author Karen Harrington on Twitter and was tickled when she followed me back. She happened to be whatever magic number of follower I had named to receive a copy of my book. I was even more tickled when she accepted my offer of a copy and proposed a trade, with the ARC of her newest.
That’s how I encountered Courage for Beginners, which has a book birthday coming in one week!
The main character, Mysti, her ex-friend Anibal, and new friend Rama Khan all grabbed me with their uniqueness and their honesty. Even Anibal had me hooked, as he discovered the power of popularity, even if it meant trashing his friend.
I didn’t expect Mysti’s Mom to grab me, though, wrapped in her fear and trapped inside. I was stunned at how powerfully her story and her voice struck me. I’ve experienced the fear and panic that can set in after something big happens that, for whatever reason, changes you and changes how you view the world.
This mother’s experience and her reaction to it affect her family in many powerful ways. We can never know how our own lives and how we lead them shape others, and Harrington deftly captures the nuance and depth of that impact with Mysti’s voice.
As Anibal’s defection becomes more obvious and permanent, Mysti’s sense of defeat grows. At the same time, when things go so very wrong at home, Mysti realizes with the help of a new friend that she must stop hiding from the truth and find some kind of courage so that she and her family can heal.
I read this ARC a few months ago, and I hope I’m doing it justice now. Dipping back in, I’m feeling all over again the power and honesty of this lovely story as a family’s secret life takes a turn from despair toward hope.
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