Juniper Berry is a middle grade fantasy novel that teaches a wonderful lesson in a very frightening way. The titular Juniper is a girl that has it all and yet has nothing at the same time. Her parents are famous movie stars and she lives on a large estate with private tutors. But she has no friends and her parents don't want to spend time with her the way they used to before they became famous. One day, Juniper meets Giles, a boy who lives nearby and whose parents have also become fully absorbed in their musical careers. Is this just a coincidence or does the fact that both of their parents have been seen disappearing behind a spooky tree in Juniper's yard mean there is actually something sinister behind it all?
I read this book in two sittings because I couldn't put it down! The villain was terrifying but the message was clear -- you can never be truly happy unless you are being yourself. When you take shortcuts and try to get things you haven't earned, you hurt yourself and those around you. And thankfully this was not presented in a heavy-handed way but in the context of a gripping and imaginative story. There are shades of gray, just like in real life, even if most situations aren't matters of life and death like Juniper's is. This is a book that I hope Z will read in a couple of years and I'll definitely be recommending it to the school librarian (and hoping for a film version)!
Staying true to myself,
Support our site and buy Juniper Berry on Amazon or find it at your local library. We won a copy from the publisher during Armchair BEA.