Ebb & Flow

Heather Smith

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - PAL­LAS GATES MCCORQUODALE

Kids Can Press (APRIL) Hard­cover $16.99 (232pp) 978-1-77138-838-2

A trou­bled young boy is sent to his grand­mother’s sea­side cot­tage for a sum­mer of re­flec­tion in Heather T. Smith’s Ebb & Flow, an emo­tion­ally charged YA verse novel that ex­plores the cor­ro­sive na­ture of grief and re­gret along­side the power of love and for­give­ness.

Ever since his fa­ther was sent away, Jett has strug­gled with over­whelm­ing feel­ings of de­spair. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the neigh­bor­hood bully, Ju­nior Daw­son, is ther­a­peu­tic for a while. Jett and Ju­nior wreak havoc un­til one day things go too far, and Jett is forced to con­front the dan­gers of liv­ing life with “no re­grets.”

Beau­ti­fully crafted, each chap­ter of nar­ra­tive poetry cre­ates a com­plete land­scape of sen­sa­tions, from waves crash­ing on the shore as Jett and his grand­mother search for pieces of col­ored glass to the stark­ness of the prison walls that hold his fa­ther.

The clever use of ital­ics, line spac­ing, and gram­mat­i­cal func­tions give vol­ume, tone, and em­pha­sis to the roller coaster of emo­tions that Jett ex­pe­ri­ences. He is an­gry, loud, pierc­ing, small, hes­i­tant, and un­sure; all are con­veyed in rhyth­mic, elo­quent lines of ex­pres­sion.

The story is told pri­mar­ily from Jett’s per­spec­tive as he turns twelve. It is easy to em­pathize with him and re­late to his in­ner tur­moil. Young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar will ap­pre­ci­ate Jett’s abil­ity to be good with words but bad in school.

The com­plete story emerges in flash­backs and snip­pets as Jett slowly shares past events with his wise and quirky grand­mother. With ev­ery re­veal, each char­ac­ter’s mo­ti­va­tions and per­son­al­ity un­fold in layers that al­low com­pas­sion for a bully, dis­ap­point­ment for poor choices, and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for sec­ond chances.

Thought-pro­vok­ing and top­i­cally rel­e­vant for to­day’s youth, but also con­vey­ing a pow­er­ful mes­sage for par­ents and teach­ers, Ebb & Flow will touch hearts with its unique in­sight, per­spec­tive, and cap­ti­vat­ing lyri­cal verses.

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