My rating: 4 of 5 stars
See you at Harry’s is a book about a family who have to face a tragedy all of us fear. The characterisation in this novel is one of it’s strengths and Jo Knowles has created a family made up of people we can easily identify with. The family run a restaurant called Harry’s and this dominates family routine and consumes the parents’ time. The other factor that dominates this family’s life is Charlie – the youngest sibling, a ‘surprise’ child for the family and a bundle of energy, annoyance, responsibility, dirt and joy all in one. Like so many family’s, the siblings squabble but are united in their embarrassment of their Dad’s antics and at the end of the day, are loyal to each other. When tragedy strikes, things will never be the same and we are exposed to the grief of each member of the family and the feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and strangeness that comes along with it.
Fern, the twelve-year-old narrator of the novel wants to be other people’s hero, just like her namesake from Charlotte’s Web but feels invisible and often unable to help those she loves. One such person is her brother, Holden, who is trying to understand his own sexuality and find his place as a gay teenager. This subplot is an element of the narrative that is particularly engaging and portrayed with real insight into the acceptance of homosexual orientation.
This novel is highly recommended for middle school students. It is well written and the themes of identity, acceptance and healing are well portrayed.