Jack doesn’t have the best summer to look forward to. His mom must take on a second job, leaving him to watch his younger sister, Maddy. One day at a flea market, a stranger offers Jack magic beans in exchange for his mom’s car. Maddy, who never talks, finally says words to have Jack make the trade. As they begin to plant the seeds, Maddy and Jack realize this won’t be an ordinary garden.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the basis as a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Retelling stories have so much potential and it’s always interesting to see a new interpretation. I have to admit, I wanted this story to be so much more and was disappointed. There was an opportunity to round out the characters, but Hatke misses it.
We have three characters with struggles that never get developed. We have a mother struggling to pay bills, get a second job, and don’t have the time to spend with her children. Jack is a young boy put into an adult situation of caring for his sibling and keeping the house in order. Maddy doesn’t speak but shows a strong curiosity. The story skirts around the realness of these characters and focuses more on the garden.
I also felt like there was no arc to this story. It isn’t very long, but there should still be a rise and fall. Instead, the entire book is an upward climb to the final moment in which readers are left with a cliffhanger. Nothing was resolved. The graphics were beautiful and the color palate was complimentary, but it wasn’t enough the save this lackluster story.