Summary: The Distance to Home
The Distance to Home is Jenn Bishop’s debut middle-grade novel. I read and loved her most recent release, Things We Can’t Say about a boy dealing with parental suicide. The Distance to Home focuses on an equally sensitive subject: the death of a sibling. This summer, Quinnen isn’t playing baseball with her team — she decided to quit after her sister, Haley died the summer before. But when her family decides to host a player from a Minor League Baseball team, Quinnen starts to bond with the a couple of the players.
Her family is also reeling from her sister’s death the previous summer and trying to figure out how to be a family of three, instead of four. The book alternates between “last summer” and “this summer,” taking readers back to see Quinnen and Haley’s relationship and what happened to Haley.
First off, this book is just about the perfect length at 256 pages! More importantly, though, this is a HEART novel. Quinnen is grappling with her sister’s absence, but readers get to walk in her shoes as they experience the girls’ sisterhood. Frankly, I enjoyed the “last summer” chapters even more than I did the present. Haley and Quinnen have a sweet, realistic sisterhood. They loved each other, but bickered without being annoying to read. Bishop highlights the challenges siblings may have with a six-year age difference like Haley and Quinnen’s as both girls are in angsty phases (but for different reasons).
I also loved the portrayal of grief in this book, not as something linear that starts and then ends, but rather as forever interspersed in our lives. Quinnen’s parents have to deal with their grief while trying to make things a little less fraught for Quinnen. Another interesting angle of the book is the baseball players whose games Quinnen attends with her best friend Casey. The baseball content of this book is not overwhelming, but will certainly be enjoyable for baseball fans, complete with the hot dogs and pizza slices at the games.
Overall: The Distance to Home
The Distance to Home is a moving, realistic portrayal of grief due to the loss of a sibling. However, it is also a celebration of sisterhood, baseball, and friendships that make it easier to keep going. Jenn Bishop is a masterful storyteller, and has a way of bringing true-to-life characters with heartfelt experiences to life on the page. If you’re looking for a summer story that tackles grief without being overwhelmingly sad, this is an excellent pick!
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Books Like The Distance to Home
- The Line Tender by Kate Allen
- Center of Gravity by Shaunta Grimes
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
Have you read this book or anything by Jenn Bishop? I love her stories and I’m looking forward to her next book, Where We Used to Roam. What are your favorite middle-grade books about death and grief?