Sweeping Up the Heart

Sweeping Up the Heart

A novel about loss, loneliness, and friendship that tells the story of the spring break that changes seventh-grader Amelia Albright's life forever.Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father--a cranky and stubborn English professor--has decided Florida is too much adventure.Now Amelia is stuck at home with...

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Title:Sweeping Up the Heart
Author:Kevin Henkes
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Edition Language:English

Sweeping Up the Heart Reviews

  • Monica Edinger

    Exquisite. I tend to shy away from sad, melancholy, poignant sort of books but decided to read this because... Kevin Henkes. It is all that, but I thought it gorgeous. The title is from an Emily Dickenson poem and she is drifting above this story in a very light barely visible way. Made me go look up the poem from which the title is taken as well as others. Also had to refresh myself on her biography. Have to admit I've never gotten into Dickenson, but if anyone could change that it would be Hen

    Exquisite. I tend to shy away from sad, melancholy, poignant sort of books but decided to read this because... Kevin Henkes. It is all that, but I thought it gorgeous. The title is from an Emily Dickenson poem and she is drifting above this story in a very light barely visible way. Made me go look up the poem from which the title is taken as well as others. Also had to refresh myself on her biography. Have to admit I've never gotten into Dickenson, but if anyone could change that it would be Henkes because of this book.

  • Lesley

    Amelia’s mother died when she was too young to remember her, so she has not missed her or grieved her death—at least not like her father, the Professor, who has an inability to express his love—and his thoughts. As in the Emily Dickinson poem, Amelia presumes he went through “Sweeping up the Heart and putting Love away.” (50) Luckily, Amelia has been raised by a neighbor who comes to the house each day and loves Amelia as if her own.

    But during Spring Break, twelve-year-old Amelia’s life begins t

    Amelia’s mother died when she was too young to remember her, so she has not missed her or grieved her death—at least not like her father, the Professor, who has an inability to express his love—and his thoughts. As in the Emily Dickinson poem, Amelia presumes he went through “Sweeping up the Heart and putting Love away.” (50) Luckily, Amelia has been raised by a neighbor who comes to the house each day and loves Amelia as if her own.

    But during Spring Break, twelve-year-old Amelia’s life begins to change. She has become used to being alone, throwing herself into her small sculptures, since her best friend turned Mean Girl. “’I never liked that kid,’ her father said…. ‘I thought she was a miserable soul.’” (175). When Amelia meets her art teacher’s nephew, Casey, they become fast friends with a hint of something more. Meanwhile Casey is working on preventing his parents impending divorce and has his own sweeping up the heart (literally, a sculpture he made to save the marriage).

    Looking out the restaurant window where they imagine lives for the passersby, Amelia notices a woman who looks like her mother and even resembles Amelia herself. Casey, full of imagination, suggests that it is her mother’s spirit, and Amelia takes this to the next step—What if her mother didn’t really die? As she begins to imagine life with her mother, she feels the grief she has been spared. The woman turns out not to be her mother, but is someone who might be able to heal their family. “Although this wasn’t the spring break she’d wanted, she wouldn’t change it.” (179)

    I have read Kevin Henkes’ picture books, and I felt the same language and structure in this book. This is a novel about complex emotions and relationships but written simply in lovely language with characters who immediate became part of my heart.

  • Laura Harrison

    I don't know how Kevin Henkes does it. Maybe it is his heart. You can see it in every thing he creates. Another masterpiece.

  • Jessica

    Beautiful, deceptively simple story about a spring break, during which Amelia thinks that nothing will happen because she isn't going anywhere. But over the course of the week things happen that change her life in ways she never would have expected.

  • Sascha

    4 1/2 stars

    I haven’t read a Middle Grade novel in a billion years, but since I decided to undertake one, I am so delighted that it turned out to be Kevin Henkes’ Sweeping Up the Heart.

    While Amelia wishes that she could be like the other kids who are off to Florida for Spring break, she finds herself stuck at home with her distant Professor father and Mrs. O’Brien, their neighbor, who has been there for Amelia since the death of her mother. However, Amelia’s life shifts within that week in ways s

    4 1/2 stars

    I haven’t read a Middle Grade novel in a billion years, but since I decided to undertake one, I am so delighted that it turned out to be Kevin Henkes’ Sweeping Up the Heart.

    While Amelia wishes that she could be like the other kids who are off to Florida for Spring break, she finds herself stuck at home with her distant Professor father and Mrs. O’Brien, their neighbor, who has been there for Amelia since the death of her mother. However, Amelia’s life shifts within that week in ways she could never have guessed.

    This is such a gentle telling, exploring communication and the lack thereof, relationships unfolding, dissolving, and being rediscovered, and a world of imagination.

    While some of the storytelling and mood could seem melancholy, it is ultimately a novel filled with hope, especially as Amelia comes to terms with the people in her life (and they come to terms with her), new and old, and discovers that magic doesn’t just occur in places like Florida on Spring break, but also in familiar places like home.

    I won an ARC from Harper Collins Children’s books in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sarah

    *Review is of an advanced reader copy

    An old soul book about an old soul child. There is something almost hauntingly bittersweet about this novel. Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant's Rosetown, Sweeping Up the Heart focuses on a lonely little girl stuck at home over spring break. When her emotionally distant father denies her pleas for a trip to Florida, Amelia instead spends her days molding clay at a local art studio. It is there she encounters a new friend, Casper. Together the pair sets out in sea

    *Review is of an advanced reader copy

    An old soul book about an old soul child. There is something almost hauntingly bittersweet about this novel. Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant's Rosetown, Sweeping Up the Heart focuses on a lonely little girl stuck at home over spring break. When her emotionally distant father denies her pleas for a trip to Florida, Amelia instead spends her days molding clay at a local art studio. It is there she encounters a new friend, Casper. Together the pair sets out in search of signs from Amelia's long dead mother.

    Perhaps it is the pre Y2K setting but the characters in this novel seem more innocent than those one typically finds in the novels (and streets) today. Amelia and Casper appear more vulnerable and less jaded, thus making their thoughts and feelings more readily accessible which in turn makes them much more appealing than the children of today who cannot seem to be bothered to look up from their handheld devices. I'm not sure how wide or receptive of an audience there will be for such a tender story but I do believe, for "old souls" this book will indeed sweep up their hearts.

  • Susan

    Thank you to the publisher and edelweiss for this DRC.

    This is a sweet story about love and loss and how those two things shape our interactions with the people in our lives.

    I empathized with the main character, Amelia. I saw her clay creations, many of which were identical, as a reflection of how she was trying to hold on to what was comfortable in her life. Change can be difficult, especially when it has to do with family.

    I did feel as though Amelia presented more like a 5th grader than a 7t

    Thank you to the publisher and edelweiss for this DRC.

    This is a sweet story about love and loss and how those two things shape our interactions with the people in our lives.

    I empathized with the main character, Amelia. I saw her clay creations, many of which were identical, as a reflection of how she was trying to hold on to what was comfortable in her life. Change can be difficult, especially when it has to do with family.

    I did feel as though Amelia presented more like a 5th grader than a 7th grader and there were many times where I thought the author could have delved farther into the story, but I appreciate the overall message.

  • Melinda

    I love Kevin Henkes and this is a quiet, slow, deeply felt little book. I'm having trouble seeing a broad appeal to kids, if I'm being honest, but the right kid at the right time could get a lot from it.

  • Brittany

    Kevin Henkes is a Wisconsin treasure. The word I most often want to use in describing his books is “gentle” and this one fits perfectly. I didn’t understand why he set this story in 1999 as opposed to any other year and Amelia read much younger than seventh grade to me, but this would still be a wonderful recommendation for those dealing with the loss of a parent/single parenthood.

  • Melissa Sarno

    Reading this book is a beautiful lesson on economy of language. I marveled at so many sentences, how absolutely perfect they were, conveying so much with so little.

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