Where the Watermelons Grow Hardcover – 3 Jul 2018
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"[Della's] first-person narration is realistically earthy without crossing into gritty. This debut novel gushes with Southern charm. This story's as sweet as Della's daddy's watermelons but never saccharine."--Kirkus Reviews
"Della's story is a reminder that even under the toughest rinds of troubles we can find the cool, sustaining sweetness of friendship."--Kirby Larson, author of the Newbery Honor Book Hattie Big Sky
"This has a tenderness that will appeal to fans of DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Where the Watermelons Grow takes a close look at the unpredictable and debilitating nature of schizophrenia. Baldwin writes with a genuine voice."--Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
"Where the Watermelons Grow is a spot-on, insightful novel about a preteen learning to live with and accept a parent's mental illness."--BookPage.com
★ "Della's voice will tug at readers' heartstrings as she tries to hold her family together. Middle grade stories about mental illness, particularly those that focus on empathy and acceptance, are rare. This heartfelt story will stay with readers. A top choice."--School Library Journal (starred review)
★ "Baldwin has written a heartbreaking, yet heartening, story that explores mental illness and its effects on an entire family. Readers will connect with the novel's well-formed characters and be absorbed by the plot, which pulls no punches but doesn't overwhelm."--ALA Booklist (starred review)
★ "Cindy Baldwin's graceful debut is an ode to family and community. Hints of sweet magical realism touch Where the Watermelons Grow, balancing this exquisite novel's bittersweet authenticity."--Shelf Awareness (starred review)
★ "In her debut novel, Baldwin presents a realistic portrayal of life with a mentally ill parent."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Cindy Baldwin is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can't bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Where the Watermelons Grow is her debut novel. Learn more about Cindy at www.cindybaldwinbooks.com.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book. This book felt so different to almost any middle grade book I've ever read. Fearlessly, Cindy Baldwin takes on the struggles a person, and especially a kid, goes through when someone they love has mental health issues. In this story, Della begins to get worried when her Mama starts showing signs of schizophrenia again. They've been through it before--when Della was 8--but this time, everything is worse. And Della is just certain that there is something she can do to help her Mama get healed up permanently.
I don't want to get too personal in this review, but I have seen this first hand. Mental health issues can be scary. And for some reason, they carry a stigma. Instead of offering real help, we often judge. We think 'if they just try harder they wouldn't be sick.' We tell them 'it's all in your head.' And when one parent is ill, and the other is overwhelmed trying to deal with life and everything, sometimes kids get forgotten. Sometimes, we don't acknowledge their struggles as well.
Where the Watermelons Grow was hard to read, because I knew the situation all too well. But at the same time, it was a beautiful portrayal of how we must all band together. How we can support each other in extended community families. How being open and willing to share both the good and bad ties us together in ways we can't imagine.
The writing is gorgeous and the use of the summer heat and drought made me hot in the middle of winter. All the characters are so real. Well-rounded, and each with their own struggles, even if they weren't at the center of the story. I wished I could visit Maryville, North Carolina for myself (though maybe not in the middle of summer), and get to know them all. :)
I highly recommend it
I run a support group for people with chronic and mental illness and I am going to share this book far and wide there as well. I hope it gives others as much hope and light as it bright to my life.
This book is beautifully written and a quick read. It sucks you in and flows so smoothly you'll finish it quickly. I love the author's writing style and look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Baldwin is a writer whose prose is beautiful. You can taste the watermelons, when they're sweet and when they sting, in this novel.
This was an uncomfortable read for me in many ways as my children grew up watching me struggle with my own mental illness. I wish I had this story to read and discuss with my sons when they were the age of Della.
I wish I could eat some juicy watermelon while watching fireflies with my friends right now!