The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer; Putnam Juvenile, $16.99, 320 pages, ages 10 and up. (May 2014)
The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a heartwarming tale about a young girl named Grace who, after suffering the heartbreaking loss of her mother, embarks upon a path of self-discovery and awareness. It is a story that will surely endear itself with middle-grade readers searching for ways to overcome immense sorrow.
We meet Holczer’s eleven-year old heroine, who traveled the country with her bohemian mother Anna, creating ‘found object’ art to eke out a living. Each time they moved, Anna would set up a treasure hunt for her child to learn about their new town. After Anna’s sudden death, Grace moves in with the grandmother she has never met, and whom she also believes wants nothing to do with her.
Grace believes Anna has left one last treasure hunt which would lead the young girl to the stability she secretly craves. Ultimately, it leads Grace to a better understanding of her mother, her grandmother, her family’s past, and herself.
Holczer’s debut novel recalls Elizabeth Berg’s 1993 ALA award-winning novel Durable Goods, where the main character Katie struggles to make sense of her world after her own mother dies. Not only do they share common themes of love, loss, sadness, and growth, but both Berg and Holzcer succeed in writing in the way a child would think, delicately describing the gamut of emotions a child endures when facing life after the death of a parent. Like Berg did with Katie in Durable Goods, Holczer applies simple phrasing and vivid imagery into Grace’s narrative.
Written skillfully and with sensitivity, Middle grade readers will identify with Grace’s gradual transition towards maturity and being able to forgive others for their transgressions and move on. Grace receives some important advice to that end: ‘You will go your whole life, Gracie May, and every single person in it will fail you in one way or another. It’s all about the repair. It’s all about letting yourself change those pictures.”
Nicole Basbanes Claire is the head children’s librarian at the Upton Town Library in Massachusetts, where she helps young readers discover the wonder of books. Prior to that, she was a teen librarian at Gleason Public Library in Carlisle, MA. Claire received her AB in English and Creative Writing from Sweet Briar College and her MSLIS from the Palmer School of Library and Information Science. She now lives and kayaks with her husband, Billy, at their lake house in Central Massachusetts.