Publisher Description - Inside front cover
A memorable trio of characters, each fighting for independence
Eleven-year-old Toby Steiner wants to do normal things on his vacation: he wants to hike and race his bike down the hill and learn to fish out on the lake. The last thing he wants is to return to the children’s hospital where his painful cancer treatment finally ended. When Toby starts spending time with Pearl, a spunky old woman who lives on a nearby farm, and Blossom, her broken-down cow, he sees all the more reason to keep the new lump on his side a secret from his parents. From Pearl he discovers the beauty of poetry, and from Blossom he just might uncover the meaning of life.
In this honest and life-affirming novel for young readers, which Suzanne Fisher Staples, author of the Newbery Honor Book Shabanu, calls “beautiful and gripping,” an unforgettable boy learns about the importance of letting things happen on their own and listening to his heart.
On the third morning after they'd settled into the cabin, Toby had felt it again. It was in the same spot on his right side, a slippery marble. He'd jumped out of bed and hurried into his clothes, covering it up.
His mom had been standing at the little kitchen sink sipping her coffee. There were purple shadows under her eyes. "Sleep all right, honey?"
She looked out the window. "It's going to be hot today. Did you pack your trunks?"
"My trunks?" Was he hearing right? The lake was off-limits, wasn't it?
"I thought you could help me for a while in the garden," she said. "Then we could . . . Oh, I don't know . . ." Her smile was lopsided, as if she was out of practice. "Run through the sprinkler to cool off! Or are you too old for that?"
"I'm eleven, Mom," he said. "Jeez!" Run through the sprinkler? Was she nuts? And anyway, he did have his trunks. He just couldn't wear them. Or she would see. Her eagle eyes would go straight to the marble and he would be back at Children's Hospital in no time flat. She would call an ambulance. Or get a helicopter. Only he wasn't going to do all that again. He wasn't going to puke up his guts over and over while his mother held his head. He wasn't going to miss school and lose what few friends he had left. He wasn't going to make new friends with kids who disappeared. It would be the biggest lie he'd ever told, and he would tell it over and over again whenever she asked him how he was, no matter how bad it made him feel.
"Fine," he'd tell her. "I'm fine."
About the Author:
Valerie Hobbs is the author of many acclaimed books for young adults, including Sonny’s War and Tender. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she teachers writing at the University of California.
"Real and poignant." -- Starred, Kirkus Reviews
"This gripping story will send fans searching for this author's previous books." -- SIGNAL
"Emotionally satisfying. Hobbs, a gifted writer, does a quietly effective job of dramatizing the life-affirming power of both poetry and a cross-generational friendship." -- Booklist
"Without morbidity, Hobbs ranges between tart and poignant, sorrowful rage and hope." -- The Horn Book
"This simple, touching story offers great characterization." -- VOYA
"A heartwarming story of self-discovery." --A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader