When her mom runs away from home, Rachel is left behind with her emotionally distant father and many questions she cannot answer. Over time, she learns the truth about her mom. But it's only when she learns the truth about her dad, the rock- immoveable and always there for her to lean on-that Rachel can move toward understanding. Every word rings true in this achingly real novel in verse.
"Brown creates a poignant work dealing with a topic rare in children's literature. Readers will hug this book. I did." -- Lee Bennett Hopkins
"This novel in poems is a rare and powerful father-daughter book. It's also a whole-heart book. You feel your whole heart break and re-knit as you read. It's that good. Ages 9-up. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED." Cynthia Leitich Smith.
"I have delayed writing about this book because I wanted to be sure my librarian friends were back in acquisition mode and ready to add this book to your B & T, Follet, or Mackin book order right now. HTR is a fine and rare treasure. I read it straight through in one sitting because I couldn't bear to stop until I knew what was going to happen. . . the story is so uplifting and positive that it will resonate with readers long after they finish it. I know it has with me."
--Book Moot (Blog)
"This book packs a lot into relatively few words. Susan Taylor Brown offers insights into life with a mentally ill parent, how fathers parent differently from mothers, how personally kids take any parental rejection, how "sometimes dads are better moms than moms are", and how, ultimately, people adapt to changing circumstances. Hugging the Rock is beautifully written, and I give it my highest recommendation." © 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Presented in brief, free-verse poems, this is a poignant character study of a dysfunctional family. In the opening sequence, Rachel watches her mother get ready to run away from home, packing up the car with everything that is important to her, except her daughter. When Mom is gone, neither Rachel nor her father can cope. Rachel shuts down and ignores schoolwork and friends, questioning why her mother left and blaming herself. Dad does not initially provide much comfort, closing himself off, too. As in Kate DiCamillos Because of Winn-Dixie (Candlewick, 2000), father and daughter gradually grow closer together out of necessity and begin to pull together as a family. Rachel must accept the painful truth that her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder, never really wanted to settle down or have children. Her father, who in the past had left most of the parenting to her mother, begins to play an active role in Rachels life and reveals his softer side, ultimately becoming more involved and affectionate. Written in straightforward language, the text clearly reveals Rachels emotions, describing moments both painful and reassuring. This novel will be therapeutic to children dealing with the loss of a parent or a mental illness.–Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.