Summary: Give and Take
In Give and Take, Maggie and her family are recovering from her Nana’s death when Maggie’s mom announces that they’ll start fostering babies temporarily. Maggie was traumatized by her Nana’s Alzheimer’s, marking the first day Nana did not recognize her as “Forgot-Me Day.” As a result, she holds on to objects as a way to preserve memories, becoming enraged when anyone tries to touch her stuff. Although knowing that Izzie, the new baby her family gets is only theirs for a short time, Maggie secretly hopes the baby will stay and her hoarding tendencies also begin to worsen. Can Maggie learn a new way of keeping her memories safe?
Maggie and her family — her parents, brothers, and even grandpa — have a sweet relationship. Maggie is also part of a trap-shooting team (which I only learned more about by watching Virgin River) and she and team mates get along well and look out for each other. I did balk a bit at a sport that involves kids shooting, but it’s totally non-violent and the story makes clear that Maggie’s parents take strong precautions with Maggie’s trap-shooting rifle.
Maggie’s hoarding tendencies are handled sensitively and Swartz really helps readers see why some people may find comfort in hoarding. We also see the strong emotional reaction elicited when anyone tries to touch Maggie’s stuff. Other things I loved were the environmental focus — Maggie has a turtle and her team doesn’t use lead bullets to avoid endangering sea creatures.
Another unique thing about this book is that it shows adoption and foster care from the perspective of the foster family, something that isn’t as common. Finally, this book is therapy-positive like Ava Andrews and I’m always up for middle grade books that portray therapy in a positive light.
Overall: Give and Take
Give and Take is a sweet middle grade book about the impact of dementia, mental health challenges, and the joy of team sport. It also highlights the beauty of temporary foster care, the need to cherish our fond memories and the loving bond between grandparents and their grandkids. If you’re looking for a middle grade book about hoarding or trap-shooting, this one tackles both of those rarely covered themes.