Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Summary (from Goodreads):
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
This book was not what I was expecting it to be. I was kind of thinking it would be more of a lighter, humorous tale of an older kid with a returning imaginary friend. While a portion of the book deals with the main character’s reoccurring imaginary friend, Crenshaw –the giant cat, it was more about family and poverty.
I guess I didn’t really read what the book was about before diving in. Occasionally, I’ll do crazy things like that. I knew I’d like it. I’ve loved this author since the Animorphs series. She was the number one author I wanted to meet this year at BEA. My ARC of this book is signed! I just wasn’t prepared for the feels. I had a few tears in my eyes, reading this one.
It’s just so understandable and relatable. I can see this happening and know it does happen to a lot of families. I know medical bills can be outrageous. And I know people get fired and laid off all the time. I’ve never read anything on this topic though from the child’s point of view. Jackson’s memories of living in a minivan were so harsh. I really saw it all from his young point of view.
I loved Jackson’s relationship with his sister. He wanted to protect her, but at the same time, he didn’t want to lie to her. Reading about these kids having to give up the few belongings they cherished really melted my heart. This isn’t something I’ve read a lot about. And Applegate wrote it so well. So much can be taken away from this short novel. There’s messages about what in life is most important. There’s so much about family, friendship, and control too.
Crenshaw, if anything, was a small side note to the story. He did make Jackson more likeable to me. What’s not to like about a kid who has a giant cat for an imaginary friend? I also like that there was this thin layer of magical realism. Did Crenshaw really know everyone else’s imaginary friends? Did the dog see him? There was a fine balance between the magical and the logical, yet there was also so much hope. Hope for a better situation, hope for things not being that bad, and hope for some things to remain magical.
I mostly enjoyed this one. I wasn’t expecting the feels, but that’s my own fault for not reading what this book would entail. I also feel like I kept waiting for more story to happen. It was a very character driven novel, which I tend to like. Yet, this one seemed to be missing something. I wanted a little more plot to it than I got. All in all, I really liked it. I give it an 8/10.

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