August or forever featured ona gritz
book review

Book Review: August or Forever

AUGUST OR FOREVER by Ona Gritz is a heartfelt story of family and truth. Check out what Audrey Davis has to say in her book review of this middle grade novel.

August or Forever

by Ona Gritz

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

ISBN: 978-1646033072

Print Length: 108 pages

Publisher: Fitzroy Books

Reviewed by Audrey Davis

A heartfelt story of family and truth

When ten-year-old Molly learns that her older half-sister Alison will soon be visiting from London, her mind races into overdrive. What should they do together? Will she enjoy being there and spending time with her younger sister? Will they even have enough time together? 

While Molly frets, watching her best friend Diane interact with her own siblings, she devises clever schemes to ensure Alison will want to stay for as long as possible—and discovers silent aspects of sisterhood she never saw before. 

Ona Gritz’s August or Forever presents a wonderfully realistic narration from a ten-year-old, a true-to-life representation of the way a child’s mind may work—assume the worst possible outcome until asking for clarification, scheming to have a grandiose plan fall into place, intense emotions both before and after said scheme. 

Molly is an intelligent little girl, and her antics with her best friend fuel a rollercoaster of a summer vacation. I also enjoyed the realistic view of a non-nuclear family structure. Molly’s father has been divorced once before, and through her relationship with her half-sister and her school friends, she learns that there are “all kinds of normal and all kinds of families.” Additionally, with this, it becomes apparent to her that every situation is different—someone’s life might seem like only sunshine and rainbows on the outside, but until one is involved, there’s no telling what you may not know about them. This can be a complex concept, yet the author demonstrates it effortlessly through the characters’ evolving relationships. 

Furthermore, I very much enjoyed Molly’s love of art and passion for her craft. Her hobby is important to her, feeding into her worry about who her new art teacher may be at school next year. Not only is it important to her, but she realizes its importance to Alison as well, feeling like she was “breaking a code between artists by interrupting [Alison]” while painting one day. 

I love that Alison is an artist herself. She is extremely encouraging of Molly and any projects she undertakes and is even willing to offer tips on how to improve her craft. Activities like this are what make us human, and they can provide an outlet for emotions we cannot or may not want to put into words. Children are like sponges (or blank canvases)— they soak up anything they observe, and Molly observes much more than just drawing tips: “The trick is letting go of all that and recalling how to play, like a child. If you remember to do your art because you find it fun, you’ll be ahead of a lot of people.”

I’d happily recommend this book. It’s important for children to learn to handle their emotions and their expectations, and this book does well at representing both. Though fast-paced and brief in length, believable and demonstrative characterization is the backbone of this story, and love and growth propel it forward. Molly’s introspective journey reveals a great deal to her about relationships, particularly those between siblings, and close friends, uncovering a revelation that many of us know so well: “[w]e may not be related, but to me we’re family.”

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