Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
That Smudge of Smoke (Bealu Books, October 1, 2023*) by Edith M. Hemingway is such a good historical read. This story connects two different time periods, 1929 and 2015–via a diary hidden in a door salvaged from an old Chesapeake Bay steamboat–and two twelve-year-olds dealing with life changes.
In 1929, Penelope Sinclair (Piper) has tragically lost her mother and has to go live aboard the steamboat, S.S. City of Atlanta, with her father, the busy captain of the ship. Her teacher gives her the diary to encourage her to keep writing. We get to be with Piper through all her grief and experiences on board until there’s a collision with another steamer.
Eighty-six years later, we pick up with Garrett Stevens, whose injured Army Sergeant dad is in a coma. Garrett and his mother have had to move in with his grandparents. When Garrett slams a door in anger, a panel pops off and there’s the hidden diary. Somehow, reading Piper’s experiences helps him through his own.
The story shares events and books from Piper’s life in 1929 as well. The salvaged door from an old Chesapeake Bay steamboat is real, which is very cool in itself. Plus, this book gives readers hope.
(*I got to read an arc–the book is officially out next week.)