Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!
It's no secret that middle grade is my favorite subset within children's literature. I love middle grade as a whole, but recently I've found myself feeling uninspired by the titles I've picked up. Caleb and Kit, however, left my love for middle grade reinvigorated, and I can't wait to recommend this title to students, colleagues, and friends this year.
Caleb and Kit is a story told from the first person perspective of Caleb, a twelve year-old boy who lives in the suburbs with his mother and older brother. Throughout the course of the novel, Caleb experiences many challenges that come with being twelve. He has his first crush (and subsequently makes various silly decisions because of it), has to face an unkind peer at school, and has his first experience with lying to his parents.
More challenging, though, is Caleb's unique circumstance: he has cystic fibrosis. As a person with CF, Caleb lives with a strict routine, and he struggles to come to terms with the impact that his needs have on his family and friends. On top of that, Caleb's family dynamic is changing, with his father's engagement to a girlfriend who doesn't seem interested in Caleb at all. All of this feels a bit overwhelming to Caleb, but he finds relief in a new friendship with a very odd girl named Kit. They meet in the forest between their houses, and there Caleb can forget all about the various hard things going on in his life. Except that Kit is running away from something too, and soon the outside world creeps into their magical haven. This story gave me Bridge to Terabithia vibes, what with the forest setting and strong, imaginative friendship between these two characters.
In addition to feeling emotionally invested in these characters and their lives, I also learned a lot through reading this book. Cystic fibrosis is a chronic illness that I knew of but wasn't familiar with, and because the story was told from the perspective of Caleb, I was able to learn a lot about the daily life of someone with CF. My friend Katharine, (who you may know from Instagram as @kathareads and who blogs over at From A to Pink) also has cystic fibrosis and recently read this novel too. I was waiting for her opinion on the portrayal of CF, and after reading she commented that this was one of the most authentic portrayals she's read. I really hope to see this title gain more attention this year, and you can bet it'll be on my list for a certain book club (hint, hint) in the future.
This title will be released on September 12, 2017.
Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5
(Wholeheartedly endorsed for readers of all ages.)
Title: Caleb and Kit
Author: Beth Vrabel
Publisher: Running Press Books
Price: Pre-order for $10 on Amazon
Source: Running Press Books