Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

I love J and YA novels. I really do. Especially the ones that are written well, like Giff or Lowry novels. I read Hollis Woods this afternoon, and it was sweet and thought provoking. I think it will take a little more time to process everything and decide more specifically what I loved about the book, but right now I’m in that happy just-finished-a-great-book high.

This picture has a dollop of peanut butter on one edge, a smear of grape jelly on the other, and an X across the whole thing. I cut it out of a magazine for homework when I was six years old. “Look for words that begin with W,” my teacher, Mrs. Evans, had said.

She was the one who marked in the X, spoiling my picture. She pointed. “This is a picture of a family, Hollis. A mother, M, a father, F, a brother, B, a sister, S. They’re standing in front of their house, H. I don’t see one W word here.”

I opened my mouth to say: How about W for wish, or W for want, or W for “Wouldn’t it be loverly,” like the song the music teacher had taught us?

But Mrs. Evans was at the next table by that time, shushing me over her shoulder.

—  Pictures of Hollis Woods (Patricia Reilly Giff)