I just completed See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. This 300 page book was so amazing. Jo Knowles first book was Lessons From a Dead Girl and was published in 2006. This is my second time reading this novel and I am so happy that I decided to reread it because it is so amazing. The author included every little detail which helped me picture what was going on and the emotions that the characters were feeling.
Fern feels invisible. She has always felt invisible, especially when little Charlie was born 3 years ago. Her family owns a restaurant called Harry’s and it is very popular. She loves Harry’s but hates that she has to be in commercials to advertise the business. Her older sister Sara is taking a gap year before going off to college and is always home, bored out of her mind. Fern’s 14 year old brother is in 8th grade and helping Fern adjust to new life in middle school even though he is badly bullied by others. Charlie is only three years old and is always getting the attention. Customers love him from the commercials (even though they all think he is an adorable girl). Fern feels like her family doesn’t care about her and is sick of always having to do the work. One day Fern was watching Charlie when he decided to run into the middle of the road. A car knocked him down to the ground. Fern ran up to him praying the he was okay and he was still and wasn’t moving. He then just popped up out of nowhere and began to run around. When hearing about what happened, her family blamed her for everything. She was so angry because Charlie was ok. He was fine! Well, at least they thought he was. The next morning, everyone wakes up late because Charlie is normally their alarm clock but they think that he must’ve slept in. When they go to wake Charlie, they move him around and he doesn’t move… or breathe. As mom sobs into Charlie’s head, the siblings dial 911 trying not to sob so the operator can understand them. When the ambulance comes, Charlie is gone. Fern knows it is her fault. The doctors think that when Charlie fell from the car knocking him over, he did something to his head. Fern begins to wish she was actually invisible. Now, the family needs to figure out what to do without their precious Charlie. And Fern needs to figure out how to live feeling like it is her fault about what happened to her baby brother.
I like how the author creates problems around all the characters. Even though as a family, they are all suffering from the loss of their son and brother, they all have these personal problems. Sara, the oldest sibling, is bored and lonely because while all of her friends are at college, she is home working at the family restaurant with no one he age around. Holden is the second oldest and suffers from severe bullying. He gets called terrible names and is made fun of for everything he does. And then there is Fern. She is the narrator of the story. Her whole life she has felt so alone. She has two best friends who she loves to be with but her family never really focuses on her. Sara is the first child, Holden is the first boy, and Charlie is the surprise baby. Fern doesn’t really have a part in her family. Well, at least no special part. The author helps create a connection to all the characters so we as readers get to know who they are better.
Something I wish the author had done to this book was have each of the family members get chapters. That way, we would be able to see how they are doing through this tough time and what they are thinking. Kind of like how in the book Wonder each of the characters got to have chapters. We would get a better connection to the characters because we get to see how they are feeling and what is going on in their perspective. I also think that would’ve helped us readers feel bad for all the characters not just Fern. We only know what Fern is going through.
A paragraph that really stuck out to me was on page 309. It was towards the end of the book. “And yes he is here. I can feel his warmth. I can feel how he’s brought us together. It’s as if before Charlie died, my family was connected in a circle, as if we were holding hands. But when he died, we let go. Now, somehow, Charlie has helped us link hands again. Sitting at the table, I can feel Charlie here as if he never left. He is here, just in a different way. I can feel him under the table, threatening to try to tie my shoes to Holden’s. He’s here next to me, saying how much Doll loves their sundae. He’s here reaching for my hand, whispering in my ear. I love you, Ferny.” The reason I like this part is because it describes so well how Fern is feeling. It really helps me picture what Fern is going through.
I would rate this book a 10 out 10. This book is one of my all time favorite reads. I am so glad that I chose to read this again because it is so nicely written. Someone who likes Realistic Fiction would like this book. Also if you read the book One For the Murphy’s, you would really like this book!!