TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord

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Tess loves living on her little island off the coast of Maine.  The small town atmosphere and early morning trips on her father’s lobster boat are such an important part of her life that she doesn’t think she could ever leave.  But when her best friend Amy’s family moves off of the island, their one room school house has too few students to maintain, and the state of Maine threatens to close it down.  Because Tess’ mom is the teacher and would need to find a new job, Tess and her family will have to move off the island unless they can boost the school attendance.  When the reverend suggests that Tess’ family adopt a foster child, Tess thinks they have found the perfect solution; not only will she be able to stay on her island, but she’ll have a new brother who could start to replace the friendship she lost when Amy moved.  But when her new foster brother Aaron arrives, things are not as perfect as Tess dreamed they would be, and Tess fears that she may not have been specific enough with her wishes.    

Refreshingly, this coming of age story is neither dramatic nor depressing.  Touch Blue explores themes that will be relatable to many readers who have had to deal with hopes and expectations that did not come true in the way they envisioned them.  As Tess tries hard to control her environment and the people around her to create her image of a perfect life, she begins to understand more about the other people in their life, their hopes and expectations, and how she can relate to them.  I highly recommend this book to middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction.

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