After her mother dies, 12-year-old Lydia goes to live with her aunt Brat, and her aunt’s wife Eileen on a farm that they care for while also caring for the ancient owner of the farm, Elloroy. This story about grief and starting over is as soft, comforting, and beautiful as the hand-knitted sweater that Lydia wears constantly to keep her mother close to her.

Before she died, Lydia’s mom spent several years waiting on a heart transplant and during those years, she taught Lydia how to fill the waiting time with art. Collages of scrap paper, scrap fabric, and other odds and ends became their Goddesses. Art helps Lydia get through her grief and so does an unruly, untrained, big, yellow dog adopted from the animal shelter. Although she never considered herself a dog person before, Lydia bonds with Gruffer and her new adults and begins to feel like she belongs.

Leslie Connor is also the author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, a National Book Award finalist, and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, two of my favorite middle grade books. Once again, Connor has given us a hero with depth of feeling and layers of behaviors that make her so real that it’s impossible to not get emotionally involved with her story. Highly recommended for ages ten and up.