“I had everything I needed to run a household: a house, food, and a new family,” explains 11-year-old Aubrey after stocking up on SpaghettiOs and buying Sammy, a pet fish, to keep her company. In Suzanne LaFleur’s tender debut novel, Love, Aubrey, the grieving girl has been holed up in her Virginia home since her mother, Lissie, devastated by the car crash that claimed Aubrey’s father and younger sister, packed up and left her all alone.
Discovered by her concerned Gram, Aubrey accompanies her back to Vermont, where they begin their search for Lissie and their long road to healing. Aubrey not only has to adjust to a new climate and school year, but to each holiday and even day-to-day events without her family.
What eases Aubrey’s grief the most are her emotionally charged letters, first to her sister’s imaginary friend, Sammy, and then to her absent family members. When she’s torn between moving back with her mother and staying with her grandmother, the letters allow her to work through the tense dilemma and to realize that home is not just a physical place but a refuge where comfort and caring reside.
Aubrey draws readers into her stirring plight with realistic concerns and a spot-on tween voice. The author’s precise word choice and even pacing leads middle-grade girls through every step of Aubrey’s heart-wrenching survival. They will indeed love Aubrey.