Review of Sweeping Up the Heart

Sweeping Up the Heart by [Henkes, Kevin]

Sweeping Up the Heart

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow Book

March 19, 2019



From two-time Newbery Honor and New York Times–bestselling author Kevin Henkes, this timeless novel about loss, loneliness, and friendship tells the story of the spring break that changes seventh-grader Amelia Albright’s life forever.

Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father—a cranky and stubborn English professor—has decided Florida is too much adventure.

Now Amelia is stuck at home with him and her babysitter, the beloved Mrs. O’Brien. The week ahead promises to be boring, until Amelia meets Casey at her neighborhood art studio. Amelia has never been friends with a boy before, and the experience is both fraught and thrilling. When Casey claims to see the spirit of Amelia’s mother (who died ten years before), the pair embarks on an altogether different journey in their attempt to find her.

Using crisp, lyrical, literary writing and moments of humor and truth, award-winning author Kevin Henkes deftly captures how it feels to be almost thirteen.

With themes of family, death, grief, creativity, and loyalty, Sweeping Up the Heart is for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rebecca Stead, Lauren Wolk, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and Pam Muñoz Ryan.


I haven’t read a Middle Grade novel in a billion years, but since I decided to undertake one, I am so delighted that it turned out to be Kevin Henkes’ Sweeping Up the Heart.

While Amelia wishes that she could be like the other kids who are off to Florida for Spring break, she finds herself stuck at home with her distant Professor father and Mrs. O’Brien, their neighbor, who has been there for Amelia since the death of her mother. However, Amelia’s life shifts within that week in ways she could never have guessed.

This is such a gentle telling, exploring communication and the lack thereof, relationships unfolding, dissolving, and being rediscovered, and a world of imagination.

While some of the storytelling and mood could seem melancholy, it is ultimately a novel filled with hope, especially as Amelia comes to terms with the people in her life (and they come to terms with her), new and old, and discovers that magic doesn’t just occur in places like Florida on Spring break, but also in familiar places like home.

I won an ARC from Harper Collins Children’s books in exchange for an honest review.


4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies

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