Dear Hank Williams

224p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805080223.
RedReviewStarGr 4–7—The year is 1948, and Tate P. Ellerbee is writing to her favorite singer, Hank Williams, as part of a pen pal assignment at school. Although her letter writing is one-sided, Tate continues to send Hank details of her life. She tells Hank about her actress mother and famous photographer father. Tate lives with her Aunt Patty Cake, who she describes as being like the sun because no matter what happens, she's always there. Her Uncle Jolly is the comic relief, as he has one heartbreak after another in his pursuit of a wife. Holt skillfully uses foreshadowing and the element of surprise in a twist ending. Included are some glimpses into the anti- Japanese and anti-communist feelings after the war. The author also highlights the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry shows broadcast on radios throughout the country during that time period. The strength of this novel lies in the insight Tate develops as she deals with tragedy and depends on the love of family.
VERDICT Artfully told, this middle grade novel pleases on many levels.

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