Counting Thyme Hardcover – 12 Apr 2016
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Praise for Counting Thyme
A 2016 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner
"Counting Thyme shows how a serious illness can tear the fabric of a family apart, and love can stitch it back together again. This deeply moving story of family, friendship, and belonging will settle deep in your heart and stay there long after the final page is read."--Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Death by Toilet Paper and Lily and Dunkin
"Melanie Conklin brings New York vividly to life in Counting Thyme, a gentle story fueled by heart, hope, and beautifully developed characters."--Pat Schmatz, award-winning author of Bluefish
About the Author
Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and all-around lover of books and those who create them. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with her husband and two small maniacs. Melanie spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail. Counting Thyme is her debut novel.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Eleven-year-old Thyme Owens has just left her beloved home (and grandmother, and best friend) behind in San Diego, and moved to the Big Apple. But her eyes aren’t starry with dreams of Broadway and everything else that New York City has to offer; Thyme is here for a different reason. Her younger brother Val (short for Valerian) has been accepted to be part of a drug trial to treat his neuroblastoma, a nerve cancer.
Thyme doesn’t know how long they’ll be staying in NYC, but she has her eyes set on a quick return. The two things she most wants pull her in opposite directions. Val getting better, and a return home; can she have them both? In a way, she thinks she can. The thing is, Mom’s been giving her little slips of paper for “time” — free passes for a half hour, an hour, etc. — for her to do whatever she wants, a counterbalance for how much of her family’s time is consumed by care for Val. Thyme collects all these slips in a glass jar, hoping beyond hope that she can amass enough “time” to go back to San Diego. To go back home.
Meanwhile, a life in New York city beckons. There’s a new school. New potential friends. A cute boy in class. A crotchety downstairs neighbor with a cockatoo. Ravioli — ahem, Mrs. Ravelli. The school play, The Wizard of Oz, and being in the sound crew with said cute boy.
Is Thyme just biding her time? Or could she possibly find a new life here in New York City?
I boarded my cross-country flight this morning with one goal. I was going to read Counting Thyme on this flight and it was going to help me pass the time! Oh, did it. As I sniffled my way through the flight — eventually I had to ask a flight attendant for some napkins to use in lieu of tissues — I became so deeply concerned with Thyme’s family, especially Thyme and Val. My heart ached for Thyme as she so often put herself second in caring for her little brother. Conklin does an amazing job of authentically portraying Thyme’s whole world, from her NYC apartment building life to the middle school experience to her sometimes fraught relationship with her older sister Cori (short for Coriander). This family felt so real for me, which of course is what led to the sniffling.
Thyme is self-deprecating and funny, sometimes brave, sometime shy and awkward, but full of love and hope and fear. The fear of losing Val, of Val ending up in the hospital, of his body resisting the trial — all of that is always there, always simmering beneath the surface. Though Thyme keeps her real reason for being in NYC a secret from her peers at school, she can never keep the truth far from her own mind. This book imparted on me such a strong sense of the impact a child’s cancer can have on every member of the family, and of the varying personal reactions to this experience.
Highly, highly recommended!
Thyme Owens will do anything to help her brother even if it means moving cross country. Yet, being the new kid & dealing with a sick family member is never easy. Thyme is sure to hook readers with her authentic voice. Can't wait to share this novel with my 5th grade readers during our character study & for Mock Newbery. Readers that loved Rules by Cynthia Lord will make so many connections to this novel!
After book talking this novel to my fifth graders, I had to order two more copies! The students can't put this story down! As middle grade teacher its often hard to fine great new novels that tackle tough situations but are age appropriate. This novel is perfect for any middle grade reader. Don't hesitate, add Counting Thyme to your cart and you won't be disappointed!
"Mrs. Ravelli showed me how to roll gnocchi. Little dough balls that were actually pasta. Each one had its own funny shape. Not one of them was perfect. What mattered, she said, was that they were just right on the inside."
"In Italy, we have a saying: Old birds are not caught with new nets."
"If Sara went to heaven, I want to say good-bye." I swallowed hard, and told myself I did not want to cry. "Well, in that case, all you have to do is shut your eyes. Then she would hear anything you said."
But sometimes, people change. Or I guess the way you see them changes, and suddenly, they are someone else completely.
Her self-conscious, yet self-centered and sweet, yet angry attitude reminded me of so many of my students. She was such a supportive friend and independent thinker at school and this made me admire her more.
This shows me that Thyme was successful on her wish, to be her own person, despite the fact that her brother is being treated for cancer. She was more than his disease, even though Val and his disease is a very central part of the story, too.
This book is about life...and how it can spiral out of our control and how we have two choices: fight it or accept it.
The minor characters are incredible as well...Ms. Ravelli, the nanny, made my heart swell. Lizzie who was brace enough to stand up to the alpha girl...and the dark, little heartthrob.
You'll get appropriately frustrated with the mom, you'll cheer for the underdogs, and you'll hug the book when you finish.
4.5 stars. Delightful.