The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
Everything changed in Maggie’s life when she turned eleven. She was one year closer to college and one year closer to finding out the things that her father said he’d explain in ten years. Though she knew she’d never be closer to understanding her two gorgeous, leggy older sisters who were mostly interested in boys and ignoring Maggie. But something else happened that year too. Maggie’s father had arms and legs that were falling asleep, and now his arms and legs were starting to stay asleep for longer and longer periods of time. Then Maggie’s mother got a job and her father stayed home. Now Maggie’s mother was always tired and not around and her father was always around but not able to help with much. As Maggie steadily figures out what is really happening to her father, this book reveals the impact a serious medical condition can have on even the strongest of families.
Sovern has written a smart and intriguing heroine into the heart of her book. Maggie is very bright, gets nearly perfect grades, asks for Coca-Cola stock for her birthday present, and loves to study ahead in her classes. But she is also wonderfully flawed with her addiction to sugar and her ability to look past what is right in front of her until she is forced to see it. Sovern excels at family dynamics. Refreshingly, Maggie relates to each of her parents very differently and the two older sisters in different ways as well. There is room in this brief book for all of the family members to be individuals.
Sovern also makes sure that though the book deals with serious issues to inject just enough humor into the story. Maggie doesn’t manage to get everything she wants in the classroom or in life. She has to learn that there is much outside the scope of her own determination to solve it. Throughout the book there is clear and organic growth in both Maggie and in her entire family as they all come to terms with her father’s illness.
A book about having a parent with multiple sclerosis, this is also a book about one amazing young woman and her strong family that is filled with love. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Chronicle Books.