The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern | Book Review
Hardback: 220 pages
Age Range: 8 to 12
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 2014)
What to expect: Family Relationships, Parental Illness, Multiple Sclerosis, Humor
Megan Jean Sovern’s spectacular debut novel, The Meaning of Maggie, gracefully and respectfully addresses the realities of families coping with illness by illuminating dignity and resilience, without undermining the struggles and sacrifices. Sovern successfully illustrates that illness doesn’t necessarily define or splinter a family, it can bring one together. The Meaning of Maggie is a humorous and poignant novel narrated by 12 year old Maggie and is a memoir of her 11th year, the year she expects to be, the “beginning of everything”.
Maggie Mayfield is celebrating her 11th birthday and is now one year closer to college and one year closer to achieving her dreams of becoming President of the United States. In fact, if you’re counting, she’s also one year closer to getting a tattoo and a year closer to voting as well. Maggie is in a hurry to grow up and now, thanks to her parents, she owns Coca Cola stock to prove it. Maggie’s quite convinced that her “hot” two older sisters are squandering away their life worried about trivial things, like appearance and boys, and she’s intent on not following in their footsteps. Maggie’s precocious aspirations are not misguided; she loves school, is a star student, and dreams of living up to her full potential while taking advantage of age appropriate privileges.
Maggie grew up a lot in her 11th year, in more ways than even she could have influenced herself (though in all fairness, she tried by taking vitamins, reading the paper, and owning stock). Maggie knew her dad was in a wheelchair because his arms and legs fell asleep, but 11 was the year she learned he had a disease called Multiple Sclerosis. Maggie learns that not every aspect of her life is in her control and sometimes, you can’t prepare for every test.
Readers will instantly fall in love with Maggie. Her narrative voice is smart, funny and clever, which makes her a highly entertaining, endearing, complex, triple threat. As Maggie learns more about her father’s illness, Sovern delicately captures the naivety, sincerity, and optimism any normal 11 year old would possess, which is both heart wrenching and encouraging. Readers will also appreciate Maggie’s family and their strong currents of bravery in dealing with their father’s illness. Though the sadness in The Meaning of Maggie is palpable, this story is about the love, hope and resolve that can carry a family through even the darkest of times.
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About the Author
Megan Jean Sovern lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This is Sovern’s first book, and is based on her own childhood experiences. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Meaning of Maggie will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The Meaning of Maggie, by Megan Jean Sovern, was reviewed by Gi Hallmark. Follow along with our Megan Jean Sovern tag.