Cover Image: Lemon Drop Falls

Lemon Drop Falls

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel. The free copy did not affect my review.

This was such a great book about losing a loved one unexpectedly and coping with the grief that follows! Morgan loved her mother, even if her obsessive planning did annoy her a bit. So when she died unexpectedly of a lung problem on one of the hardest days of Morgan’s life, Morgan is devastated. She has to do almost everything for her family. Morgan drops all of her after school activities, including soccer, to watch her younger siblings so he doesn’t have to pay for childcare. Throughout all of her grief, she has been bottling up all of her feelings, and then they all come out of her at once. 

This was such a great book! Morgan was amazing and her siblings added just the right amount of humor. The grief was portrayed perfectly. I also loved the before and after sections which weren’t confusing, as other books can be. This should be read by any middle schooler or adult. Definitely looking forward for more of the author’s books in the future! 

Grades 5+
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This is a heart-wrenchingly adorable book. It deals with the loss of a loved one in a realistic, meaningful, and powerful way. And it does it all perfectly from the perspective of a sixth grader for a chapter book audience. I had tears in my eyes throughout and read the whole second half in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. Morgan and her family were lovely characters to get to know. The only downside is the mom's ABC planning strategy made me feel horribly disorganized in my own life, but I won't mark this book down because I'm a complete slacker.
Without a doubt, I recommend it!
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LEMON DROP FALLS pulled my heart out onto the page, revealed all these deep aching secrets, and then sewed it back together better than it was before.

Seriously, I spent the last third of this book reading through tears. The character arc was beautifully done. The main character and her family and friends were vivid and true to life.

Morgan lost her mom unexpectedly to a pulmonary embolism at the beginning of the summer and is desperately trying to keep the family together, care for her younger siblings, and show dad he doesn’t need so much help that he’ll need to move them away from her whole life. But, it’s too much for one girl to bear, and something has to give.

I feel like this is an especially timely book with how many kids have lost parents to COVID in the past year and a half. Very very worth reading.
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This is such beautiful look at grief and anxiety for a middle grader! I loved Morgan and her family. I liked looking back at the times before and how she was learning to deal with things in the after. It can be hard for anyone at that age right before junior high, but then dealing with grief that causes anxiety can make it even harder. I liked that there as a talk of therapist and getting help. I felt bad for Morgan because she felt that she had to hold her family together and couldn't talk about her feelings with her dad, but we do see a change at the end. 
I think this is a relatable book even right now. I know that there are adolescents out there that may have lost a loved one due to COVID and they might be able to see themselves in Morgan and figure out how to deal with their grief. I loved the Lemon Drops and the aspect of starting sour and as you let your feelings out it leading to sweet. I also loved the ABC planning that their family used and the figuring out a new Plan A. 

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!
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Wow! It is hard to believe Lemon Drop Falls is a debut novel! 
Heather crafts together a perfect blend of a raw emotions, heartwarming and heart tugging moments. 
Morgan, the main character, struggles with anxiety and feels the pressure of filling in her mothers shoes at home, cooking and taking care of her younger siblings after her mother passes away suddenly. She is also dealing with the ups and down of middle school friendships. Morgan does all she can to make sure her dad decides against needing to move away from her friends and the only home she’s ever known so they can get help from Grandma. 
Normally I can become confused when novels bounce back abs forth between timelines, but this one was easy to follow and I loved how Heather even connected them at times! 
What a beautiful novel!
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Heather Clark's debut middle grade was a homerun for me. I was immediately drawn into the story with lovable characters who are all just trying their best and getting really mixed up along the way. Learning to talk to each other about hardship instead of bottle it up and leaving on your family even when it's hard were major themes in the book. Learning that you can't do it all on your own was perhaps the biggest lesson of all.
I can't wait to see more from Clark!
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What happens when a parent unexpectedly dies? For Morgan, she attempts to hold her family together by filling in for her mother. She takes on caring for her younger siblings, making dinner, and keeping house, all while attempting to shield her father from more pain. On a camping trip to Capitol Reef, Morgan finds space to wrestle with her own grief and finally asks for help. This is a story from the heart - you will root for Morgan. She needs the support of her family and friends, as well as her own permission, to make sense of her new plan A.
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There are some stories that make me want to reach into the pages and hug the characters, and this was one of those books! Morgan tries so hard to keep it together after her mom's passing, and she does this out of a place of deep love for her dad and siblings. No one knows what they're doing when they walk through grief, and the way this book is written will help readers experiencing something similar know that it is ok to not be okay! A very powerful 'windows/mirrors' book on the topic of anxiety and panic attacks as well. Not to mention an incredibly exciting travelogue of the campground/hiking trails the family visits. Highly recommend!
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This book! 

I don't know where to begin. It is such an amazing combination of heartbreaking sorrow and pure joy and human connection. I couldn't put it down. My kids (ages 10-17) and I read this aloud in a single day. We loved the characters, were enthralled by Morgan's journey, and were brought to tears more than once. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. If you love Gary D. Schmidt, Rebecca Stead, and Jeanne Birdsall, this should be at the top of your to-read list.
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Lemon Drop Falls is a book that will grab readers and not let them go. There are so many feelings that the main character Morgan has about her family, friends, and all the things that she's juggling and author Heather Clark does an excellent job of making it real. As Morgan navigates a sudden loss along with entering junior high, the reader shifts back and forth between the past and the present, reminding us of how they are inextricably intertwined. Clark also writes about Morgan's anxiety so accurately. This book will be one that middle grade readers will see themselves in and enjoy. Thank you to Jolly Fish Press and #netgalley for the eARC! Don't miss this one!
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When Morgan's mother collapses in front of her, her last words were, "Keep them safe, Morgan. Be Brave for them. Help them be happy." Since her mother's death, that is all Morgan has been doing. Taking care of her father and younger sister and brother, even if that means giving up her friends and soccer, something she loves to do most. Following her mother's life coach plans, Morgan is determined to make her family's plan B work for them. But when her father takes them on their usual end of summer camping trip, Plan B keeps getting changed and Morgan feels her control slipping. To get that back, she does something reckless that puts her life in danger. But when all hope seems lost, she learns that her mother's words on the floor wasn't her actual final message and that Plan Bs can turn into new Plan As. This book is full of heartbreak and love. I would recommend getting it for an upper middle grade classroom when it hits the shelves in January 2022.
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Twelve-year-old Morgan's mom, a professional life-coach and creator of a life planning system, has unexpectedly died. Her last words to her oldest daughter were, "Keep them safe, Morgan. Be brave for them. Help them be happy."

Morgan's trying her best to fulfill her mom's last wish. In spite of her young age, she's taking care of her two younger siblings, a dad who's struggling with his own grief, the housework, keeping everyone fed, all while trying to hold onto her two best friends in spite of a rift that's come between them in the form of a bossy, troublesome new girl. 

And if that's not enough to juggle, Dad suddenly decides that the family's annual camping trip is a go - even though mom's not around to organize it, and back-to-school plans urgently need to be take care of. Morgan's stretched to the limit trying to take care of everything for everyone, while keeping quiet about her own needs for fear her Dad will think she can't handle it all.

The chapters alternate between "Before", "After" and "Now". The transitions between timeframes are smooth and often very clever. As the camping trip progresses, the storylines grow more and more intense, until they finally reach a point where you will be unable to put down the book. The last chapters are achingly beautiful, sad, and triumphant. Morgan's journey is filled with lessons to be learned by anyone with an open mind and heart, whether you are twelve years old or twenty-and-twelve. 

My thanks to author Heather Clark, Jolly Fish Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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Heather Clark seamlessly blends the past and present between chapters in this story of letting go and finding ourselves again. Morgan struggles to face her anxieties and loss with courage. As a planner, This book will help readers navigate the challenges in their lives, both big and small (I'm all in for finding a new Plan A after the soft landings and transitions of Plan B). One of my favorite lines, “I put a hand over my heart, where something seems to have broken loose inside. Like an unbuttoning.” The imagery and plot work perfectly.
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Lemon Drop Falls was a quick and emotional read that ended on a sweet note. Middle schooler Morgan takes her mother’s last words very seriously when she dies unexpectedly leaving behind a husband and three children. Morgan takes on a huge amount of responsibility caring for her siblings Janie and Budgie. She believes it is her duty to prevent her grieving Dad from feeling any more stress, even though she struggles with her own anxiety.  She makes sacrifices in her social life such as giving up soccer and spending less time with her friends to take over duties at home. 
     The book was told in alternating chapters of before and after her mom’s death and the important backstory unfolds beautifully through this style. I made connections to several other books as I read such as The Canyon’s Edge and Ten Thousand Tries. Morgan is determined, giving, and responsible, but angry at the cards she has been dealt. Her risky adventure nearly turns tragic, but it is just what she needs on her journey of healing. I appreciated the realistic conversations amongst the characters such as struggling friendships, anxiety, crushes and puberty. This makes the book very relatable for my middle schoolers. I will definitely purchase this for my classroom.
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I received this book for free for an honest review from netgalley. #netgalley

Such a fun and deep middle great book. Very very Deep.
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I was fortunate enough to get to get my hands on this book pre-publication, and I could not put it down. LEMON DROP FALLS is raw, real, lyrical, and heartfelt. I loved Morgan, the main character, but each character down to the most minor has a distinct voice and feels like a real person. It’s structured masterfully, into After and Before chapters, which is exactly how it feels when someone you love dies—like your life is permanently cracked in two. Both storylines are riveting, and the way the novel shifts back and forth from present to past is such an elegant way to demonstrate how the past haunts the present…but also how we always carry loved ones with us, even after they're gone. This book is full of hope, heart, and even humor. Kids are going to love it, especially kids like Morgan, who’ve been forced to bear heavy burdens
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Get your Kleenex boxes ready before you start this debut novel by Heather Clark. Main character Morgan is doing all that she can to tend to not only her younger brother and sister, but the cooking, cleaning, and planning that are required since her mother unexpectedly died.  She has to hold in all her own feelings and needs and be sure that nothing happens that reveals just how much she is grieving and how badly she needs someone to take care of her! Then her dad’s “fog” begins to lift and he decides to wreck all the plans that Morgan has made to insure a successful start of school by taking the now smaller family to Capital Rock to try and recapture some of the joy experienced on their yearly trip. Will tragedy strike again?

Morgan’s anxiety and grief are complicated by her struggle to keep it “buttoned up” and even the family tradition of eating a lemon drop while sharing feelings and problems and thus going from sour to sweet must be refused. Puberty, the move from 6th grade and into junior high, and changing friendships further cement this book as one that will give 4th-7th graders much to think about and enjoy. Readers will see connections to Lindsay Stoddard’s Bea is for Blended, Tricia Springstubb’s The Most Perfect Place in the Universe and Laura Melchor’s Missing Okalee. Highly recommended for libraries with readership in sad-happy heart warmers like these as well as those by Joan Bauer, Barbara O’Connor, and Lisa Graff.
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Morgan tells us her family’s story before and after her mom died. Morgan’s mom was an ABC planner- A action, B backup and C cleanup. She said if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. While waiting for the ambulance, Morgan’s mom made her promise to keep her younger brother and sister safe and help them be happy. This is a lot for someone in junior high, and Morgan feels the pressure. Dad is still in a Fog. When mom was alive, she used lemon drops as a way to have difficult conversations- they might be hard at first, but then got sweeter or easier. One day dad decides they are all going camping because Morgan has worked hard and needs to relax. On top of trying to hold the family together, Morgan’s best friend isn’t talking to her. While camping, dad has brought some lemon drops so the family can talk and remember mom, but Morgan isn’t interested. One morning Morgan takes off and wants to hike Sulphur Creek by herself. Morgan feels her mom’s presence and realizes her mom will always be in the traditions and plans they make. Morgan encounters some dangers, and wonders will she be okay? Can she handle any more pressure?
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Lemon Drop Falls is the story of twelve year old Morgan, a soccer playing, Star Wars loving girl, whose anxiety kicks into overdrive after the death of her mother. When she overhears her dad considering moving closer to family so they can get more help and support, Morgan takes it upon herself to shove her emotions deep down inside and become a pseudo parent for her siblings, proving to her family (and herself) that they're going to be okay. 

This book handles so many complex topics like the loss of a parent, the growing pains of friendship, and the parentification of young girls carefully and thoughtfully, and in ways that felt accessible for younger readers. I enjoyed the split timelines because we got to learn more about what "Before Morgan" was like and to see that drastic shift in her personality, as well as get to know her mother.
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