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Where The Watermelons Grow By Cindy Baldwin
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Where The Watermelons Grow takes us on a journey with twelve-year-old, North Carolina girl, Della Kelly who tiptoes from her bed one steamy summer night only to discover her mother hearing voices that aren’t there. As the days progress, Della watches her Mama fall deeper under the veil of an acute episode of schizophrenia. Initially it’s just small things like her mother fearing watermelon seeds are toxic and air conditioners are bad for your health. But these irrational concerns and non existent voices become stronger until Della can no longer recognize her mother in the body of the woman who stands before her.
Desperate to prevent her mother’s downward spiral, which has previously ended in a hospitalization, Della takes it upon herself to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility - from household chores to caring for her eighteen month old sister, and helping her daddy on the struggling, drought-ridden farm. And when that doesn’t work, she seeks some medicinal honey from the legendary, local Bee Lady- who, much to Della’s despair, advises Della to heal her own aching heart and let the medical professionals care for her mother.
Throughout the book, Della’s journey continues to be heart achingly sad but Cindy Baldwin’s beautiful writing gently wraps around your heart and mesmerizes, compelling you to read on like only a master storyteller can. And Baldwin’s secondary characters are just as rich and alive as her heroine. Especially Della’s exhausted but loving father, her loyal best friend, Arden, and new neighbor, Miss Lorena.
Where The Watermelons Grow is a must-read story full of love and hope despite the seriousness of the mental illness portrayed. Grab an ice cold plate of watermelon, a patch of summer sun, a box of tissues, and get ready to walk in Della’s shoes. It’s an experience not to be missed.