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Where the Watermelons Grow

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Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time. With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations. But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is. An Indies Introduce/Indie Next title for Summer/Fall 2018! “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) “[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


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Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin’s debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time. With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations. But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is. An Indies Introduce/Indie Next title for Summer/Fall 2018! “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) “[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

30 review for Where the Watermelons Grow

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Rawson Hill

    I had the pleasure of reading this book before it got a book deal. It is gorgeous. The words will floor you. They are lyrical and beautiful and packed full of emotion. The feelings are raw and real. An important book. Loved it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Mar

    I'm lucky enough to have read this one already and I can't say enough great things about this story. I read it in one sitting, because I couldn't put it down. It delivered on all the beautiful feels and Della's story stays with you long after you set the book down. It's a perfect bittersweet balance of optimism and acceptance. Add it to your TBR and start your countdowns now, you'll need this one on your shelf when it comes out!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan C.

    What an amazing middle grade read! Told in a strong southern voice, this story follows 12-year-old Della through the most difficult summer of her life. Her mother is battling paranoid schizophrenia, her family farm is in trouble, and she's left to hold the family together. I thought this book did a wonderful job of humanizing mental illness for the MG reading set. The author does not shy away from the emotional intensity of dealing with the disease, but she does manage to handle it with such gra What an amazing middle grade read! Told in a strong southern voice, this story follows 12-year-old Della through the most difficult summer of her life. Her mother is battling paranoid schizophrenia, her family farm is in trouble, and she's left to hold the family together. I thought this book did a wonderful job of humanizing mental illness for the MG reading set. The author does not shy away from the emotional intensity of dealing with the disease, but she does manage to handle it with such grace that I don't think it would overwhelm a younger reader. This book was hard, but also incredibly hopeful, and I've already told my eleven year old it's going on his reading list! "There is nothing you did that caused your mama's problems, and nothing that you could have done to change it, you hear me? A thing like schizophrenia is bigger than you, bigger than me, bigger than your mama and daddy. It's a sickness, just as real as anything like cancer, and it needs a doctor's help just as much."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I'm so excited to share this little piece of my heart with all of you!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Like Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, this book deals with mental illness and I liked it better because it seemed more realistic. Young Della Kelly's mother is schizophrenic, which illness became manifest with Della's birth. Although she was hospitalized and given medication when Della was 8, the birth of her little sister causes her to progressively worsen. Della feels responsible, and tries to help her Mama using the logic of a child, but her various strategies don't work. Eventually, the Bee Like Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, this book deals with mental illness and I liked it better because it seemed more realistic. Young Della Kelly's mother is schizophrenic, which illness became manifest with Della's birth. Although she was hospitalized and given medication when Della was 8, the birth of her little sister causes her to progressively worsen. Della feels responsible, and tries to help her Mama using the logic of a child, but her various strategies don't work. Eventually, the Bee Lady and other neighbors help Della figure out the help that is needed most.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This was a very difficult book for me to read because I have a mother who suffers from mental illness. So of course I personalized everything. All the memories that I had carefully buried and had tried to move past resurfaced and it felt like I was reading with a brick in my stomach. That said, I am happy this book was written and Cindy did a beautiful job capturing what it feels like to live with someone who is suffering from mental illness. I think mental health needs to be talked about and no This was a very difficult book for me to read because I have a mother who suffers from mental illness. So of course I personalized everything. All the memories that I had carefully buried and had tried to move past resurfaced and it felt like I was reading with a brick in my stomach. That said, I am happy this book was written and Cindy did a beautiful job capturing what it feels like to live with someone who is suffering from mental illness. I think mental health needs to be talked about and not hidden. Growing up we were told not to tell anyone what went on in our house because it was "confidential" so there wasn't anyone I could really turn to. I had many of the same feelings Della had in this book. As I read Where the Watermelons Grow I wished for a cure that I knew Della would not find. I still wish for a cure. It felt like the conversation Della had in the car with Miss Lorena was written just for me. She was talking to a fictional 12 year old girl, but I needed to hear it and be reminded again too. I wish I had this book 20 years ago.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    I can count on one hand the number of books in our library that deal with parents who are battling mental illness and yet I know this is a problem that our students face. I am thrilled to be able to put this book on my shelves for the upcoming school year. WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW is a book I won't forget anytime soon and I know it will stay with other readers, as well. Someone out there is going to complain that this book is too heavy and depressing for children. It is heavy. Having access to I can count on one hand the number of books in our library that deal with parents who are battling mental illness and yet I know this is a problem that our students face. I am thrilled to be able to put this book on my shelves for the upcoming school year. WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW is a book I won't forget anytime soon and I know it will stay with other readers, as well. Someone out there is going to complain that this book is too heavy and depressing for children. It is heavy. Having access to books about tough topics is important. Some of our students are dealing with tough situations like this one and they deserve to see their life reflected in books, too. I will defend books like this one ALL. DAY. LONG. And yes, it belongs in elementary school libraries, too. I think the sweet spot for this book is likely grades 3 - 6 (Della is entering 7th grade), but I know certain 7th and 8th graders who will love it, too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 7.0 Have you ever felt like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? You have a problem that needs to be fixed and you are the only one who can fix it? This is what Della Kelly is struggling with. Her mom has a disease called schizophrenia. This is a disease that makes her hear other voices in her head and she becomes extremely obsessive about things such as cleaning and the safety of her children. This disease was triggered when Della was born so sh Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 7.0 Have you ever felt like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? You have a problem that needs to be fixed and you are the only one who can fix it? This is what Della Kelly is struggling with. Her mom has a disease called schizophrenia. This is a disease that makes her hear other voices in her head and she becomes extremely obsessive about things such as cleaning and the safety of her children. This disease was triggered when Della was born so she feels responsible for her mom's sickness. When her mom's sickness starts up again and is spiraling downward, Della feels like she has to fix her. Everything she tries seems to fail and Della is at her wits end. Della's family lives in a small town in North Carolina where everyone knows everyone. Della and her dad are trying to keep this new bout of sickness just to themselves, but as things get worse they realize they need help. All this time that Della is trying to help her mom, she doesn't realize that she needs fixing also. Read this amazing book of love, sacrifice, and family to find out if Bella can help to fix her mom and her family or if things will spiral out of control. This was a very hard book to read. Since I have never had to deal with a family member with any type of mental sickness, I could not put myself in Della's shoes. This was an incredible book to to read, however, because there are so many children out there who do have to deal with these problems everyday. Many children are ashamed and don't want others to know what is happening in their lives. We as teachers have these students in our classrooms and this book teaches us how to have sympathy for these children. If you are a child dealing with a mental illness in your family, this is a must read. If you are an adult that works with children, this is a must read. Don't miss this one!! Follow me: Blog - Blazer Tales - https://blazertales.weebly.com/ Facebook - Laurie’s Library Place - https://www.facebook.com/LauriesLibra... Instagram - laurieslibrary - https://www.instagram.com/laurieslibr... Twitter - @laurieevans27 Goodreads - Laurie Purser - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1... Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/auburngirl2...

  9. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    I read this to my twins. I wasn’t sure how much they’d like it, because they usually prefer books with more adventure, but this held their interest and made them feel for the characters. It’s about Della, a girl whose mother has schizophrenia, and her challenges, fears, and growth as her mother has a particularly hard summer. The writing was beautiful, and I hope it helps my daughters develop more empathy for those struggling with mental illness and their families. Note to parents (since this is I read this to my twins. I wasn’t sure how much they’d like it, because they usually prefer books with more adventure, but this held their interest and made them feel for the characters. It’s about Della, a girl whose mother has schizophrenia, and her challenges, fears, and growth as her mother has a particularly hard summer. The writing was beautiful, and I hope it helps my daughters develop more empathy for those struggling with mental illness and their families. Note to parents (since this is a middle grade book): one swear word.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Once I was lucky enough to get an ARC I decided that Where the Watermelons Grow would be my first read for 2018. What a lovely book--filled with real emotion and love, beautiful descriptions, down home dialogue, and (the part that sticks out the most for me) UNRELENTING heat. It reminded me of hot humid summer days, and by the end of the book I, too, was desperate for a good summer rainstorm. I was left with tears in my eyes and a reminder in my heart that we all have difficult situations in our Once I was lucky enough to get an ARC I decided that Where the Watermelons Grow would be my first read for 2018. What a lovely book--filled with real emotion and love, beautiful descriptions, down home dialogue, and (the part that sticks out the most for me) UNRELENTING heat. It reminded me of hot humid summer days, and by the end of the book I, too, was desperate for a good summer rainstorm. I was left with tears in my eyes and a reminder in my heart that we all have difficult situations in our lives, but thankfully we are also surrounded by people to help us.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amelinda Bérubé

    Gulped this down in one sitting on an ugly cold January night - just like Della says of watermelon, it's got the very taste of the stickiest days of July. Full of gorgeous, languid prose I could read all day!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jen Petro-Roy

    What a lush, gorgeously written book. Della has such a distinctive voice, and the atmosphere and place in this book is like another character.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Thanks to the publisher for the free review copy. All opinions are my own. I noticed this morning that WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW is rated #1 in children’s farm life books on Amazon. That description is extremely limiting, but this book is about as southern as southern gets. It reminds me in many ways of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. You can almost hear the characters’ slow drawl and feel the hot, sticky air. Della is indeed a 12-year-old country girl, spending her summer selling her Thanks to the publisher for the free review copy. All opinions are my own. I noticed this morning that WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW is rated #1 in children’s farm life books on Amazon. That description is extremely limiting, but this book is about as southern as southern gets. It reminds me in many ways of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. You can almost hear the characters’ slow drawl and feel the hot, sticky air. Della is indeed a 12-year-old country girl, spending her summer selling her family’s crops at their roadside farm stand. A summer drought threatens her family’s crops, and Della has never seen her father so stressed. That is, until her mother stops taking the medication that has helped to control her schizophrenia for several years—ever since the “bad time.” Della feels responsible for her mother’s illness, in part because it first blossomed after her own birth. In addition, her mother’s worries often express as fears that something will happen to her daughters. “And once you have a child, it’s like a part of your heart is out there walking around in the world…” As her mother’s health spirals out of control, Della does everything in her preteen power to help. When all efforts fail, Della must rely on friends, family, and ultimately, the power within her to live with her struggles. That’s important—Della can’t solve her mother’s problems, she can only live alongside her and support her as she deals with them. Della also realizes that her mother’s illness in no way affects her ability to love her children. “No sickness in the world could make my mama’s love for us less real.” Della often expresses the fear that her mother is “crazy.” The characters surrounding her respond consistently and forcefully that calling her crazy is neither kind, fair, nor true. Her mother is sick, not crazy. It’s important for young readers to hear this message—that mental illness is just like any other illness. Although I don’t have real-world experience with schizophrenia, this book read to me as a fair and genuine representation of the illness and its impact on families. Perhaps just as importantly its about family love and how family often blurs with community when we need it most. I highly recommend WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW for middle grade and adult readers! I think it has wide appeal, deals with difficult issues in a fresh way, and is chock full of southern charm.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This beautiful MG novel was one that my heart didn't know it needed. But oh, did I need it. You see, I'm Della's mama. I don't have schizophrenia, but I have other mental illnesses, and some chronic physical conditions that limit me. I'm not the perfect mom that I want to be, that I imagined I'd be. And sometimes I worry that my kids will resent me for not being enough. For being too tired to do everything they want to. For gifting them with a genetic heritage that's going to impact their lives a This beautiful MG novel was one that my heart didn't know it needed. But oh, did I need it. You see, I'm Della's mama. I don't have schizophrenia, but I have other mental illnesses, and some chronic physical conditions that limit me. I'm not the perfect mom that I want to be, that I imagined I'd be. And sometimes I worry that my kids will resent me for not being enough. For being too tired to do everything they want to. For gifting them with a genetic heritage that's going to impact their lives as well. Reading Della's struggles in this book, from wanting to fix her mother, to trying to be strong enough to help her, to struggling to accept her mother's illness, and even her fears for her own future, was like a glimpse into my own daughters' lives. My heart broke with Della's. And healed a bit along with hers as well. This gorgeous story is set in the South, and Baldwin does a lovely job of making the setting shine. Her phrasing and atmosphere breathe Southern charm onto every page, without resorting to painful Twain-esque dialect. Her cast of side characters, both black and white, was well-fleshed out. Every character felt important, and like a real person with a past, emotions, and desires of their own. Della and Mylie in particular were wonderfully done, true to strong-willed girls everywhere. I enjoyed the light touch of magic with the Bee Lady's honey and with storytelling. I think for my kids, this will be a read-together type of book, not because of anything problematic or inappropriate in it, but because it is a little bit heavy. And I know at least one of my tender-hearted, super-sensitive girls does better with this type of story if we read it together and talk about it as we go. And for us, because it does reflect our family, I hope it will be a good conversation starter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Young

    I just had a feeling that I was going to love this and I was right. The writing is stellar, the story is moving, and the author doesn't shy away from the hard things. All of that coupled with the southern summer setting and I was just really in love with this book! I highly recommend. Definitely pre-order worthy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Sarno

    This book will break your heart a little and piece it back together, as the best books do. The writing is lush, the setting vivid, and Della's voice shines, shines, shines. I loved it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erik This Kid Reviews Books

    This was a fascinating book – it shows a family dealing with a member’s insanity, but in a middle grade context. It was an interesting concept, and one that was executed very well. It is obvious that Baldwin plotted this story out very carefully. The limited knowledge that Della has about schizophrenia only adds to the intensity of the story. She does not know why her mother is acting the way that she is and Della is frightened even more by her mother’s actions. Della’s lack of knowledge of the This was a fascinating book – it shows a family dealing with a member’s insanity, but in a middle grade context. It was an interesting concept, and one that was executed very well. It is obvious that Baldwin plotted this story out very carefully. The limited knowledge that Della has about schizophrenia only adds to the intensity of the story. She does not know why her mother is acting the way that she is and Della is frightened even more by her mother’s actions. Della’s lack of knowledge of the disease made the book feel much more emotionally charged, and real. Yet, the opposite is also true: Della new enough about schizophrenia (from her mother’s previous issue) that the book didn’t become some sort of dark despair novel. Baldwin wove an intricate balance of emotion. Kudos to Baldwin for being able to pull it off masterfully. The writing style is appropriate for younger kids, but the topic could be a little tough for some readers. I think this book would be a good read for children who know someone with schizophrenia as it may help them understand how people have dealt with schizophrenics a little, or teach them about the disease. This was one of the heavier middle grade novels I’ve read lately, but it wasn’t too dark. This was an interesting read, and I think people in search of different topics in their reading will enjoy this book. *Please note I received a free review copy of this book

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    My heart absolutely broke for Della while I was reading this. Because her mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after Della was born, she's blamed herself for the illness. And because her dad has a strict policy of "family problems are not to be discussed with outsiders," no one ever said "Oh, honey, no, it's not your fault." I also take issue with the synopsis. It's more that Della learned to let go of (a) her feelings of guilt and (b) her idea that she's the only one who can help fix her My heart absolutely broke for Della while I was reading this. Because her mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after Della was born, she's blamed herself for the illness. And because her dad has a strict policy of "family problems are not to be discussed with outsiders," no one ever said "Oh, honey, no, it's not your fault." I also take issue with the synopsis. It's more that Della learned to let go of (a) her feelings of guilt and (b) her idea that she's the only one who can help fix her mama. The synopsis makes it sound like she's embarrassed and feels like her mom could be better if she'd only try harder. Della is really wise for someone who's only 12. A large chunk of that is because she's had to do a lot around the house and she does the lion's share of raising her little sister. But she's also still 12 and because her mom was diagnosed after she was born, she interprets it as happening BECAUSE she was born, which means that it was her fault. Even so, she does her part (and then some) and isn't ever all that resentful about it. This is such a fantastic story and will absolutely break your heart (and also really make you crave watermelon). Recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Soleil

    So many emotions. This book was one that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about, but in the end i loved it. The MC is just a 12 (almost 13) year old girl who wants to help her mama. I related so much with many of Della’s emotions and feelings, remembering many things where i felt the same at that age. I tearwd so many times, and would’ve probably cried if there weren’t people nearby. It is bittersweet in its realism, showing that life has its ups and downs, and we have to work our way and sometimes do So many emotions. This book was one that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about, but in the end i loved it. The MC is just a 12 (almost 13) year old girl who wants to help her mama. I related so much with many of Della’s emotions and feelings, remembering many things where i felt the same at that age. I tearwd so many times, and would’ve probably cried if there weren’t people nearby. It is bittersweet in its realism, showing that life has its ups and downs, and we have to work our way and sometimes do things differently.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    This book is spectacular. Cindy tackles the issue of mental illness on a young family: its unpredictability, the stress, the emotions and how this illness affects everyone around them. This middle school novel is not just for children, it’s for anyone who has been touched by mental illness as Della’s father says it perfectly when he lies about his wife’s absence. “Lots of people, they don’t understand an illness like your mama’s, like schizophrenia. They hear that name and start to use hurtful w This book is spectacular. Cindy tackles the issue of mental illness on a young family: its unpredictability, the stress, the emotions and how this illness affects everyone around them. This middle school novel is not just for children, it’s for anyone who has been touched by mental illness as Della’s father says it perfectly when he lies about his wife’s absence. “Lots of people, they don’t understand an illness like your mama’s, like schizophrenia. They hear that name and start to use hurtful words, like “crazy” and “psychotic” and start seeing a person as just a disease, not a human being.” So, they feel that it’s just better that they lie or not say anything about her condition. Eleven-year old Della would do anything to cure her mother. Della feels she’s at fault for her mother’s disease and since her mama won’t go to the doctor, she intends to cure her. She doesn’t just want the symptoms go away, like they have in the past, she wants a healthy mama. But as the days go by, it seems mama is getting worse. Della tries a variety of ways to cure her mama but mama’s behavior is worsening and she is being unpredictable. In an area where neighbors help neighbors, Della feels alone and scared as she knows she can’t reveal to anyone their family’s secret. Arden, her best friend, who knows a bit about the situation, carries the weight of secrecy and friendship, watching her friend suffer. I loved the Southern atmosphere of this novel where the community was positively involved in the lives of their neighbors. The concern for them yet the knowledge of knowing when to step away was felt as individuals drifted into Della’s family’s routine. The weight of responsibility that Della felt for her mother’s illness was heavy, yet that is how she felt as words of her mother’s illness were heard upon her ears. I felt for Della as she tried to help but it was like a losing battle. Her little sister was a handful and I had to laugh and shake my head at her adventures. I felt Mylie needed someone to take her out and just run with her: run and run and run! I loved the reference to the books as I read. Since I love The Graveyard Book, I was thrilled to see this book mentioned and how the character cited it. This book is filled with friendship, struggles, family, determination and love, it’s a book that you will not forget. I really enjoyed this book and feel that it’s a book that not only children will enjoy. “Sometimes when things are bad for me, books get to be some of my best friends.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Durrant

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wow, this book was so much more than I had expected it would be. I suffer with mental illness. In this book the Della he oldest daughter is trying to find a way, any way, to solve her mothers schizophrenia. She is desperate to fix her. It was difficult to read, but only because it was SPOT ON with what mental illness truly looks like. I saw myself (in my darkest times) in Della’s mother. I also saw myself in Della, (desperate to find a solution) Through beautiful writing we follow Della throug Wow, this book was so much more than I had expected it would be. I suffer with mental illness. In this book the Della he oldest daughter is trying to find a way, any way, to solve her mothers schizophrenia. She is desperate to fix her. It was difficult to read, but only because it was SPOT ON with what mental illness truly looks like. I saw myself (in my darkest times) in Della’s mother. I also saw myself in Della, (desperate to find a solution) Through beautiful writing we follow Della through true friendship, hardship, rebellion, fear, southern ways and a little bit of Magic. :::Spoiler:::: In the end they are not able to magically able to save the mother from her illness, she gets sick enough to need to go to the hospital. Once again this mirrors real life, most people do need some attention medically. The book shows us that it is okay. That we can still love those in our life that aren’t perfect. Della learns from the bee lady, that her mother would Never give up her family, even if the stress of family sometimes makes her sick. I applaud the author for beautiful story, filled with truth and love. I plan on reading this again soon. It is one of my new favorites.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    Cindy Baldwin’s debut novel book touched me very deeply. My mom had bipolar disorder, not schizophrenia. But Della, the main character in Where the Watermelons Grow reminds me so much of myself. She reminds me of the struggle to maintain normality, the anger and hostility. The desperate desire to have someone step in and the fear that they would. I can’t separate myself from my history to review this book. It’s too close. But I can tell you that it’s a great book. It’s a great book because Della Cindy Baldwin’s debut novel book touched me very deeply. My mom had bipolar disorder, not schizophrenia. But Della, the main character in Where the Watermelons Grow reminds me so much of myself. She reminds me of the struggle to maintain normality, the anger and hostility. The desperate desire to have someone step in and the fear that they would. I can’t separate myself from my history to review this book. It’s too close. But I can tell you that it’s a great book. It’s a great book because Della and the people around her are real, because they care for one another. It’s a great book because Baldwin has an ear for language and eye for metaphor. This is the kind of book that you want to read out loud so that you can feel the words dripping off your tongue. This a great book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Beautifully written prose! I was transported to rural North Carolina during a hot summer. In this debut novel, Baldwin captured the sights, sounds, smells and even the taste of summer. Amidst this masterfully crafted setting, Baldwin realistically and respectfully explored mental illness and it's far reaching effect on families. The central issue being not the patient's experience but 12 year old daughter Della's life and the impact her mother's illness had on it. It was refreshing to read a sto Beautifully written prose! I was transported to rural North Carolina during a hot summer. In this debut novel, Baldwin captured the sights, sounds, smells and even the taste of summer. Amidst this masterfully crafted setting, Baldwin realistically and respectfully explored mental illness and it's far reaching effect on families. The central issue being not the patient's experience but 12 year old daughter Della's life and the impact her mother's illness had on it. It was refreshing to read a story describing empathy, friendship and the power of love. 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! Bravo Baldwin!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    I read one of the very early versions and loved the story from the beginning. The story is well told and deals with real life problems. Not just for those in similar circumstances, but for everyone from all walks of life because we all have things out of our control to figure out how to deal with in our lives. I can't wait to read it again in it's final version.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. Where the Watermelons Grow is now available to purchase or request from your local library. This middle grade story is unique and tackles some heavy issues in a really beautiful, tender way. Della King is a 12 year old girl who is trying her best to beat the unbearable summer heat. She spends her days looking after her spirited, younger sister, helping to pick crops and tending to her family’s fa Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. Where the Watermelons Grow is now available to purchase or request from your local library. This middle grade story is unique and tackles some heavy issues in a really beautiful, tender way. Della King is a 12 year old girl who is trying her best to beat the unbearable summer heat. She spends her days looking after her spirited, younger sister, helping to pick crops and tending to her family’s farm stand. She starts taking on some added stress and anxiety when she begins to notice signs that her mom is getting sick again. Her mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after Della was born. She doesn’t want her mama taken away again and feels the need to do everything in her power to let her rest so she can fix her hurt brain. First off, this story is full of Southern charm, vivid descriptions and hints of magical realism. You can feel the hot, sticky air, and imagine the sweet, juicy taste of watermelon. It reminded me very much of The Secret Life of Bees. The way this book tackles mental illness was pure perfection. You see the struggles each character had and how it effects every single person. It contains a very important message about learning to ask for help and the need to never feel like you are responsible for someone’s illness. I love how the people in this community kept rallying behind the family and never stopped asking if everything was alright or if they needed anything. They were there to not cast judgement, but offer endless support and love the moment the characters were ready to embrace it. Miss Lorena was definitley my fav, “Sometime when things are bad for me, books get to be my best friends.” This is such an important book for kids to read and relate to. There are even quite a few good lessons for adults as well. I urge you to add this one to you list. It definitley shouldn’t be missed!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cami

    Such a sweet and sensitive book. Della learns lessons that we all need to remember when difficult times come in our lives. It's a tender reminder of the need for personal strength and for help from those we love. It's also a empathetic and realistic view of mental illness and it's effects on individuals and families.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Zannachan

    Where the Watermelons Grow is Baldwin's debut novel, and it is a beautiful, sweet story about a girl who's mother is suffering from Schizophrenia. With hints of magic realism, the story is a sweet and is as much about family, friendship, and community as it is about mental illness. Baldwin's has an incredible skill with language and characters and I am already looking forward to her next book. I highly recommend this book to others.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Bene

    I loved this book! As an oncology social worker, I could see this book being helpful for pre-teens and teens with a patent with any type of illness. It addressed the themes of self-blame, uncertainty and powerlessness that many children of ill parents experience. I think this is a must for middle school libraries!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Sumrow

    The prose is lush and languid, easing the reader into the very serious topic of mental illness. Like so many kids, Della wants to “fix” her mom, but the author does a fantastic job of revealing the realities of mental illness with a gentle touch. This is a fantastic book for building empathy and understanding in MG readers.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    This is a stunning book dealing with a difficult issue. Della Kelly's mother has schizophrenia and she's stopped taking her medicine. Cindy Baldwin deals with mental health in a sensitive way, leading readers to feel compassion for both Della and her family. It was hard to put this book down. I was as immersed in this as I was when I read Bridge to Terabithia for the first time. Highly, highly recommended.

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