My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Animals, Environment, Friendship
Obe Devlin has problems. His family’s farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn’t like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks.
One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags… No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there’s never been a creature like this before. The animal–Marvin Gardens–soon becomes Obe’s best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.
This is A.S. King’s first middle grade book.
I’m quite familiar with her young adult novels, so with her style, but I still had no idea what to expect from ME AND MARVIN GARDENS. After all, there are many differences between YA and MG.
I’m not disappointed with this novel written for young readers. A.S. King is known for inserting dept in her stories in creative ways – which is one of the things I like most about her – so it’s true I wondered how she would perform as a writer of middle grade instead of her usual category.
Although there is a very evident young vibe and the main character (Obe) is eleven years old, I think older readers may enjoy this as well. I sure did. It’s not exceptional, but it’s such a hopeful story. Beautiful themes are featured, such as friendship, environment and the importance of treasuring our roots.
Marvin Gardens is Obe’s new and not-quite-supposed-to-exist friend who eats plastic. Obe, who believes saving the environment is a salient mission, is fascinated by Marvin Gardens. Sadly or not-so-sadly, he will discover that there are no perfect solutions – nothing is either black or white.
This is a slow book. Not much happens. Obe thinks a lot. Fortunately, he thinks about important subjects in interesting ways. Plus Marvin Gardens is a curious character – I love animals; I wish this one existed!
Even if it’s slow and uneventful, it’s hard to not want to keep reading, because this book makes us wonder about what will happen to Marvin Gardens – Where does he belong? What will happen to him? How will the story end?
Such a heart-warming story.
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