Welcome back to another fantastic book review post! I’m so excited this week to partner up with the lovely folks at Xpresso Book Tours to feature a brand-new-release (literally released today) A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight by the (possibly magical?) talented Jen White. I have a big heart for Middle Grade stories, and not just because I get to help bring this genre to life during my day job 😉
Some of my first favorite books were written for a MG audience. I still remember that feeling of being 8, and reading these “big girl” stories of daring 12-year-old’s running off on magical adventures, like Bruce Coville’s Into the Land of the Unicorns. Or being in awe of the daring of the heroes of Mary Casanova’s Stealing Thunder and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. They were the kind of stories that stick with you into adulthood.
There is still an innocence to tween heroines, as their worldviews are challenged and altered by bigger, more adult emotions and circumstances. I’m excited to report that Jen White’s A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight carries that same feeling that made me fall in love with these kinds of stories in the first place. Keep reading to learn more, and enter the giveaway, of course!
A THOUSAND MINUTES TO SUNLIGHT
by Jen White
Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Jen White’s A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is a sensitively-written middle grade novel about a girl struggling with anxiety, family secrets, and the meaning of friendship.
Cora is constantly counting the minutes. It’s the only thing that stops her brain from rattling with worry, from convincing her that danger is up ahead. Afraid of the unknown, Cora spends her days with her feet tucked into sand, marveling at La Quinta beach’s giant waves and her little sister Sunshine’s boundless energy.
And then danger really does show up at Cora’s doorstep–her absentee uncle, whose sudden presence in the middle of the night makes her parents nervous and secretive. As dawn breaks once more, Cora must piece together her family and herself, one minute at a time.
A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is an endearing and revelatory middle-grade novel that is perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.
5 of 5 Stars
A beachside treasure hunt. A mysterious family secret. And a friendless girl named Cora, who is ready to be happy again, she just doesn’t know it yet.
In A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight, Jen White doesn’t just gift us with a compelling, middle-grade adventure, but dares to peel back the layers and go deeper. We don’t just get a quirky tween heroine, we also catch a glimpse into what it’s like to live through that difficult age with anxiety. Cora’s brain works a bit differently than most kids her age. She finds comfort in counting the seconds, minutes, and hours of each day. There’s a surety in time that she struggles to find in her day to day life. And when the noise and the people around her are too much, she relies on the advice of Brain to help her through. Brain has been inside of Cora’s head for as long as she can remember, and tells her “the truth.” Only, now that her only friend Minny has moved away, and her parents are suddenly inviting long-lost uncles home and keeping secrets, Cora’s not so sure of anything anymore.
I devoured A Thousand Minutes of Sunlight in one sitting. I’ve always been drawn to off-beat stories and characters, and Cora and time-travel-bound Patrick quickly became people I wished I’d known in Middle School. Most tweens feel like strangers in their own skin, but Cora’s anxiety attacks and the stress brought on by her family’s secrets make her struggle seem insurmountable. The author did an amazing job, not only allowing us to see the world through Cora’s eyes (and with Brain’s commentary), but in crafting a story the reader will want to inhabit. I loved the emphasis on family and friendships, and the way Cora discovers that everyone in her life is made up of layers.
With a colorful cast of unforgettable characters, and a few surprising stakes to bring you to the edge of your seat, A Thousand Minutes of Sunlight is an absolute must-read. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the mystery behind the treasure hunt and Patrick’s time machine should compel you to join in the journey. Cora finds strength alongside the reader, to accept the new friendships and mended family connections. As Cora reflects, “Now I understand Dad. It isn’t about the treasure. It’s about time. Time with people you care about.” Just like her father chooses to give her estranged uncle a second chance, so too Cora decides to give second chances to her friends and herself.
**I was provided with a copy of A Thousand Minutes of Sunlight by the publisher and this is my voluntary and honest review.**