Ebb & Flow

Title: Ebb & Flow

Author: Heather Smith

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 978-1-77138-838-2

A middle grade novel in verse? Yes, please. One written by a Canadian Author (publisher by my favourite Canadian publisher)? Yes, please (with a cherry on top)! Ebb & Flow packs a hard emotional punch – breaking your heart and putting it back together from one page to the next.

After a terrible year at a new school, 11-year-old Jett goes to Newfoundland to spend the summer with his grandma. While the relationship with his cotton candy grandma grows, the details of the terrible year is slowly revealed along with backstory about his friend Junior, Junior’s uncle (Alf) and Jett’s dad.

Because the story is told in verse with no dialogue tags and skips back and forth in time, I occasionally found it hard to follow who was who (especially the inanimate objects Jett names). But that didn’t stop me from connecting to the characters. Jett’s internal conflict is very realistic and relatable and his connections with Grandma, Alf and Nelly are especially endearing.

This is a quick read but it’s not easy. It tackles subjects like child abuse, domestic violence, and bullying. The author doesn’t sugar coating things but she does leave room for growth and hope.  Highly recommended.