Book Review: Counting Thyme

Posted April 14, 2016 by Kara in book review, Kara / 1 Comment

Book Review: Counting ThymeCounting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 12th 2016
Genres: middle grade, contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.
After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

This book was absolutely adorable. But it took me SO long to read. I’m not exactly sure why that was, but it definitely kept me from enjoying it as much as I feel I should have. I realize that that I am not the target group this author writes for, and keeping that in mind, that’s why my rating is still mostly positive. Because I do honestly believe if I had been the right age, I think I would have liked this one a lot more.

Thyme has to move away from her grandma and her best friend Shani, and go with her family to New York so her brother can do a cancer drug trial that could potentially save his life. Obviously this is hard on Thyme and her sister Cori, who have to leave their lives in California behind. Thyme has a plan to get her back home, and that is to save as much time (her mother gives her time slips for doing work around the house that she can turn in and use to do/get something she really loves/wants) as she can, and then present it to her parents, who hopefully will let her go back home.

This part of the premise didn’t really work for me because I am not a kid. What parent would let their kid go back home because they managed to save up a bunch of IOU slips? I definitely think this would have worked for a younger reader, however.

As time goes on, Thyme gets more involved with school, makes some friends, and decides she doesn’t hate it so much. And that’s basically the plot of the book. It’s about a family, but mostly a 12-year-old girl dealing with her little brother’s illness. And this is going to make me out to be a horrible person, I think, but I just found it boring.

I need something to keep my brain engaged. The characters were quirky and fun, but it was the writing that really turned me off. It felt like the summarizing of a story and events instead of me reading a book with a rich story and environment. It was a lot of telling and basic writing, and I think that is something that might get better as this author publishes more books. This is her debut novel, and sometimes they are really freaking great, but sometimes the author still has a lot to learn, and in this case, it falls somewhere in the middle. Really great characterizations, but this book was super light on plot, and at times it felt emotionally manipulative which you all KNOWWWWW that i hate.

With that said, View Spoiler » trigger warning for animal death. I HATE that the parrot was killed off. I feel that was completely unnecessary. It was emotionally manipulative. View Spoiler » Give me a great story, write well and make me feel for your characters, and then you don’t have to DO that. It was incredibly frustrating. I loved Mr. Lipinsky and I didn’t agree with some of the decisions regarding his character, and seeing an old person alone and without love in their lives is a very hard thing to deal with, and it is very realistic and a reality for many seniors today, and I felt that he was used to tug at heartstrings and I thought it was bullshit basically.

And that’s about that. There was some good in this book, but mostly it just let me down and took me forever to read. I picked it up because it was set in New York City and had a parrot in it, and both of those elements let me down. The setting was dull. NYC should be glitzy, busy, and dynamic, and it was just flat like most of this book, sadly. And I’ve already explained the issue with the parrot. So this one gets a 3 star rating from me.




One response to “Book Review: Counting Thyme

  1. Meh. I love MG but I try to avoid contemporary fiction as much as possible because it seems to rarely ever be uplifting. I’m sorry that this one didn’t work out for you the way you hoped, but 3 stars is way better than a DNF!

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