Meet Samantha Rose, one of My Favorite Villains of 2018 Middle Grade Books

One of my favorite middle grade reads this year has been HOPE IN THE HOLLER by Lisa Lewis Tyre. You can read my review with some words from Lisa herself at Live Your Poem. Here's the summary of the book as provided by the publisher:

The poignant--and funny--story of a girl trying to be brave and find her place in the world after she's sent to live with scheming relatives.

Right before Wavie's mother died, she gave Wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it! But little did Wavie's mom know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. Now Wavie's back in the Holler--and in the clutches of her Aunt Samantha Rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose and her revolting cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there's real pleasure in sleeping in her own mother's old bed, and making friends with the funny, easygoing kids her aunt calls the "neighborhood-no-accounts." With their help, Wavie just might be able to prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian, and find her courage and place in the world.

I love this book for many reasons -- and one of them is because of Wavie's Aunt Samantha Rose, who is so very easy to despise! Here's how Wavie describes her in the book:

"And Samantha Rose reminded me of rock candy, sugary sweet and hard enough to crack a molar. She threw around a lot of honeys and darlin's but they were always added on top of something bad.

'The toilet is clogged. How about trying your hand with a plunger, honey?'

'You'll be getting free meals at the school, so it'd help if you left the cereal for your uncle, darlin'.'"

One of Wavie's habits is to rearrange letters and make up new words. Here are some of the words she conjures out of "Samantha Rose:"
"I'd written TRASH, TORN, TEARS, RAN, MET, RANTS, MONSTER on my first night."

So, writers and readers: do yourself a favor and meet Samantha Rose! You'll be so glad you did. xo
Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal


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