Summary: A Soft Place to Land
A Soft Place to Land is Janae Marks’s sophomore middle grade novel. I loved her debut Zoe Washington (which is getting made into a movie BTW).
Joy Taylor and her family have moved into an apartment complex because her dad lost his job and their mortgage is too expensive to keep on one income. Now Joy has to share a room with her little sister and hear her parents fight every day about the work her dad chooses (or chooses not to do). Her only respite is the nice kids in the building and the hideout they introduce Joy to. One of the kids befriends Joy and they even start a dog-walking business together. But when Joy finds a sad message on the hideout wall, she’s determined to find out the person in need, but her good intentions cause more harm than good.
I loved this story. The plot is nothing like the author’s debut and Joy is much more mild-mannered than Zoe, but it’s just as immersive. The kids quickly form a camaraderie and I was relieved that no one was getting bullied. I also liked the hideout so much I wished I had something like that as a kid.
Joy’s family deals with serious financial difficulties that strains her parents’ marriage and I loved the way the author presented that in an age-appropriate way. I also liked Joy’s relationship with her little sister and the overall dynamic between the parents and their kids.
Joy goes outside her comfort zone to start a business because she wants to save up for a piano (something her parents can’t afford right now). I liked seeing the girls navigate the issues that come with starting a new business. The book’s climax will have you rooting for Joy and her new friendships — that’s all I can say without spoiling much.
Overall: A Soft Place to Land
A Soft Place to Land is a sweet, heartfelt story about finding friendship and community and handling financial difficulties as a family. Kids who enjoy books about friendship groups, starting a business, and navigating relationships with younger siblings will enjoy this one.