Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm is a 2011 Newbery Honor book. This story takes place in 1935, during the time of the Great Depression. The heroine of the story is a young girl named Turtle who, even though she is young, has seen a lot of ugliness of the world which has made her a realist at only 11 years old and even has a bit of a bitter outlook toward life. Her mother is more childlike than she is and Turtle seems to take on the burden of caring for her mother emotionally. Turtle is sent away to live with relatives in Key West, Florida when her mother takes a job where Turtle is not allowed to join her. The story follows up with Turtle and her cousins finding a hidden treasure on a nearby island and they all split the amount. Turtle starts coming out of her shell of bitterness and starts believing in dreams coming true until her mother's latest husband takes all of Turtles money and abandon's them. Again, Turtle has to pick up the pieces of her mother's broken heart and console her and the bitterness of all that she has been through starts to get to her until her relatives reach out and show their love for them.
Readers who enjoy stories of family and deep emotion will enjoy this story based on Jennifer Holm's old family stories. I found the story heartfelt and interesting, because of all of the struggles Turtle goes through yet remains so strong and independent at only 11 years old. Children who also like reading about adventures will enjoy this as well as the children find hidden treasure from a stowed away treasure map. The story deals with so many real issues during this time period, however, the author does try to keep it a light read by adding humor to the story that children will enjoy.
Recommended by Amanda Jenkins