Title: Trusting True North by
Author: Gina Linko Publication
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction
Date: 4/5/22 Hardcover
Retail Price: $16.99
Page Count: 176
Juvenile Fiction Cover illustration: Kevin Keele Book design: © Shadow Mountain
Art Direction: Richard Erickson Design: Sheryl Dickert Smith
***I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own***
True North Vincent is struggling after spending months in lockdown because of a virus. With her mom stuck across the border in Canada and her dad working long hours as a nurse at the hospital, True feels responsible for making sure her family stays safe, especially her grandma and her younger brother, Georgie, whose asthma makes him more vulnerable to the virus. She also wishes her older sister, Rose, would be friends with her again instead of texting on her phone.
True finds escape and comfort in working on her maps, a skill she learned from her mother. To keep Georgie entertained, True creates an elaborate treasure map for him to follow that spans the forest beyond her backyard. While exploring, they find a litter of newborn kittens in an old barn. The smallest kitten looks sickly and has been abandoned by the mama cat. True names her Teacup; she knows exactly how it feels to not have a mom around when you need her the most.
True also meets Kyler, who wants to care for the kittens, and True realizes he might not be the bully everyone thinks he is. But when both Teacup and Kyler get sick, True is afraid she won’t be able to help everyone all by herself.
Running out of her own fixes and remedies, True reaches out and realizes that her family does care about her and wants to offer support and guidance to help her find her way through the unexpected challenges the virus and life bring.
This middle-grade realistic fiction is set during the recent pandemic. The "virus" as it is called in the novel is never referred to by its real name, Covid-19. The main character, True North Vincent is having a hard time during the lockdown because of the isolation and all of the distancing rules and being away from friends. Her mom is stuck in Canada, her dad works at the hospital, and True is in charge of taking care of her little brother because her Grandmother is in ill health. To make matters worse, her beloved older sister is pushing her away, they're all stuck doing virtual school, and True seems to keep getting in trouble for not following her Grandma's rule.
There is a lot in this novel that middle-grade readers will like. They will be able to relate to True and how she is feeling. True discovers many things about herself and others. Her love of making maps goes along with her quest to find treasures in others too. Trusting True North is a great book for this age group and an adult should be there to discuss things from the book if needed. These are real-life events and issues and this book can bring out some great talking points wrapped up in a sweet story of discovery.
***Meet Author Gina Linko***
GINA LINKO has a master’s degree from DePaul University in creative writing, as well as several published books for young adults and children. She lives in a south suburb of Chicago with her husband, three teenage children, and two spoiled cats. By day, she edits college textbooks. At night, she writes to figure things out. She questions what is possible, what is real, and what it is that truly matters.
For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at email@example.com
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Praise for Trusting True North
“A heartfelt and touching middle-grade book, where map-making serves as a wonderful metaphor for navigating relationships with family, friends, and community during the traumatizing start of the pandemic. Readers will love True and her X-marks-the-spot heart!”
—Lee Edward Födi, author of Spell Sweeper
“A gentle narrative centered around a lockdown similar to that of spring 2020, although the nature of this pandemic is simply called the 'virus.' True must make some very mature decisions and pay dearly for her wrong choices. This is a sincere and accurate portrayal of a potent time in the world, accurately reflecting the fear and insecurity the world felt before the discovery of the vaccinations. The story moves along at a tender pace and draws readers in with True's fears and strength as she navigates such vulnerability. An interesting, map-driven account of a fifth grader's struggles to protect her family during lockdown.”
—School Library Journal