Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
When I picked up this short novel, I didn’t realize it was a book for “young readers.” If I hadn’t seen the Scholastic Book label as I began to write this blog piece, I wouldn’t have known. Read it as a gentle, thoughtful story life transitions and impending grief for all ages.
Emily and her mother return to the desert Southwest to close up Grandmama Ola’s house and bring her to Ohio for her final months. The chapters read like poems to soft desert breezes and cherished family ties. Odes to friends, family, and connections. Harmonizing with nature. Bits of family history in attics and suitcases. Shared experiences and memories. All written with the pace of desert life.
I won’t admit how far I was into the book before I realized the characters were African-American. To me this was about the love and connections within any extended family. Many hands make light work as they share joy, laugh, and carry on the continuity of life.