Porch Swing Girl
Mountain Brook Ink
Published May 1, 2018
About Porch Swing Girl
What if friendship cost you everything?
Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.
With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.
But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.
I really liked that PORCH SWING GIRL follows a girl dealing with grief and shows her progressing through some of those emotions and finding her way through. She struggles, for sure. At times she’s blind to other people’s feelings. But she’s really trying to figure things out. I definitely identified with her in that way.
The spiritual themes are really strong here. It’s definitely a story about a faith journey, so if that isn’t what you’re looking for, this may not be the right book for you.
For the most part, I thought her faith journey rang true and felt real. There was a moment when she has a misunderstanding with a friend and he makes a comment that was kind of… I’d call it “Christianese”. Sort of stilted and steeped in spiritual metaphor basically telling her he couldn’t date her because she’s not committed to her faith at that point.
I got what he was saying, but it did make me realize how hurtful and dismissive that type of comment can be. (Which may have been part of the author’s point.)
The themes about grief and the way everyone grieves differently, and the fact that we don’t know someone’s life just by looking at them really stuck with me in reading PORCH SWING GIRL. I loved her grandma and of course Jazz so much, too.
Recommended for Ages 10 up.
Olive’s mom is Hawaiian.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief kissing on face.
Most of the characters in the story are Christians and open about their faith. In the wake of her mom’s death, Olive is struggling with what she believes. Characters pray openly and attend church meetings. A boy tells Olive he can’t date her because she’s not a committed Christian. (His explanation is a little weird, but that’s his meaning.)
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