Just South of Home
Cousins Sarah and Janie unearth a tragic event in their small Southern town’s history in this witty middle grade debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Stella by Starlight, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, and As Brave as You.Twelve-year old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie, arrives for a visit, Sarah's plans are completely squashed.Janie has a knack for getting into trouble and asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It's also off-limits. Janie's sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis, and his best friend Jasper to uncover a deep-seated part of the town's past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family.This debut middle-grade novel will be available from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in May 2019.

Just South of Home Details

TitleJust South of Home
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 1970
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Contemporary, Fiction

Just South of Home Review

  • Joshua Levy
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed JUST SOUTH OF HOME--the characters at the heart of the story are so lovable and so compelling. And as someone who really enjoyed spooky stories as a kid, JUST SOUTH OF HOME hits all the right notes. Kid'll love it! (Grown-ups too.)
  • Kristin Crouch
    January 1, 1970
    Just South of Home is the best of a child's summer: family, friends, mystery, and adventure! Responsible Sarah is finally old enough to be in charge of her little brother, Ellis, for the summer. This means that instead of toiling away under the hot sun following her emotionally distant grandmother's orders, she can read all the books she dreams of! What Sarah didn't plan on was her cousin, Janie, being included in these plans. Janie dislikes Sarah's country life, and misses both her mom and the Just South of Home is the best of a child's summer: family, friends, mystery, and adventure! Responsible Sarah is finally old enough to be in charge of her little brother, Ellis, for the summer. This means that instead of toiling away under the hot sun following her emotionally distant grandmother's orders, she can read all the books she dreams of! What Sarah didn't plan on was her cousin, Janie, being included in these plans. Janie dislikes Sarah's country life, and misses both her mom and the big city she left behind for the summer. When Ellis shares an old tale of haunting with Sarah and Janie, they become intrigued...And soon enough, they are in over their heads!I loved this book! The family relationships were memorable and evolving. From the distant and judgmental grandmother to the cranky cousin, to the doting and encouraging parents and the strong sibling dynamic - it was a joy to spend the summer with them all. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I loved that the kids revisited the racial history of the Deep South. While many in the town would have liked to forget some of the evil that had occurred there, the kids knew that the only way to truly move forward would be to acknowledge and honor the struggle and pain of those who had walked before them. I highly recommend this book for students in grades 4 and up.
    more
  • Remy Lai
    January 1, 1970
    What a great book!Sarah's cousin Janie has come over to stay. They stumble into an old church and cemetery, and Janie "steals" a cameo, causing a haint to follow them. What follows is a perfect balance of realism and the supernatural.What I love most is the relationship between Sarah and Janie. While the cousins do not get along at first, they start to discover they have more in common than they thought. I also love the complex relationship between Sarah's mom and grandma.
    more
  • Laura Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 for JUST SOUTH OF HOME, a debut novel by @karenmusings (#KarenStrong); thanks to @simonkids and YSBRMA blog for sharing this; will share with #kidlitexchange next!.〰〰"...we can't change the past, but we need to remember it. We need to acknowledge it and not hide it." This debut middle grade novel about coming to terms our racist past is a must-buy for every elementary and middle school library! I sped through this book in one day and simply loved it..〰〰Sarah, a Black pre-teen in rural Ge 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 for JUST SOUTH OF HOME, a debut novel by @karenmusings (#KarenStrong); thanks to @simonkids and YSBRMA blog for sharing this; will share with #kidlitexchange next!.〰️〰️"...we can't change the past, but we need to remember it. We need to acknowledge it and not hide it." This debut middle grade novel about coming to terms our racist past is a must-buy for every elementary and middle school library! I sped through this book in one day and simply loved it..〰️〰️Sarah, a Black pre-teen in rural Georgia, loves science, her small town and her family. She's dependable and book smart so it's no surprise when her mother puts her in charge of her little brother Ellis and her city cousin Janie, who is visiting for two weeks while her mother tries out for a movie. At least she isn't stuck doing chores all day for her grandmother, Mrs. Greene, who strangely insists her grandkids call her by her formal name (this may be confusing at first for readers). Janie convinces Sarah to take her to Creek Church, the former site of her church, which was burned down by the Klan and is rumored to be haunted. Janie, Sarah, Ellis and their friend Jasper soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving restless spirits ("haints") who must be brought to justice. Sarah may love science, but increasing evidence suggests that ghosts exist, too. Can she help put the spirits to rest?.〰️〰️Within three chapters I was completely hooked by this book. Strong's writing flows effortlessly and the plot, as well as the sub-plots are well constructed. I loved seeing Janie and Sarah's relationship grow, I adored the humorous scenes with Ellis' bearded dragon Walter and I was captivated by the mystery. Highly recommended!.〰️〰️#librariansofinstagram #librariesofinstagram #mglit #mgbooks #justsouthofhome #mystery #racialjustice #saytheirnames #ilovemg #bookreview
    more
  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusSarah is thrilled that she and her brother Ellis are going to be allowed to stay home by themselves over the summer, rather than spend time with their uptight and controlling grandmother, Mrs. Greene. Sarah loves space, and has a research project planned, while the younger Ellis plans on constructing model cars. When their cousin Janie's mother wants to go to Hollywood and leave Janie with Sarah's family, Sarah struggles to make the best of the situation, especial E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusSarah is thrilled that she and her brother Ellis are going to be allowed to stay home by themselves over the summer, rather than spend time with their uptight and controlling grandmother, Mrs. Greene. Sarah loves space, and has a research project planned, while the younger Ellis plans on constructing model cars. When their cousin Janie's mother wants to go to Hollywood and leave Janie with Sarah's family, Sarah struggles to make the best of the situation, especially since she and her only friend, Jovita, have fallen out. Janie is angry about being left by her mother in a small town Warrnesville, but Sarah tries to show her around. They are both particularly intrigued by Mrs. Whitney, who has a souvenir shop in the Town Square and is trying to revive interest in local history. Leaving Ellis with a neighbor, the girls, along with neighbor Jasper, travel to the nearby ruins of Creek Church. They start finding out that the church's history is intertwined with the Civil Rights movement, and realize that Mrs. Whitney is right about their being "haints" in the area. They have awaken one, a small boy named Abner, and try to figure out what needs to be done to put him to rest. The town, and especially Mrs. Greene, doesn't wish to discuss the troubled racial past of the area, but Sarah knows that it is important to understand the past in order to make peace with it.Strengths: There are not enough books about children being allowed to be at home while their parents work during the summer, and Sarah's set up is well described. The cousins' relationship is absolutely realistic, and I enjoyed the fact that they both really tried to get along, even though they had different interests. The history, and the tie-in with the family, is interesting and timely. I even liked Mrs. Greene, despite her faults. She meant well. The cover is fantastic.Weaknesses: This would have had more emotional impact without the "haints"; it makes the murder of Abner somehow less real. While my students like mysteries, ghost mysteries are probably their least favorite.What I really think: Definitely purchasing for fans of Johson's The Parker Inheritance and Vaught's Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry.
    more
  • Kristin Thorsness
    January 1, 1970
    Karen Strong’s middle grade debut opens with red velvet cake, and it just gets better from there. JUST SOUTH OF HOME is an absolute delight. I fell in love with the spunky cast of characters right away and found myself both laughing and crying as I moved through the story with Sarah, Janie, Ellis, Jasper, and yes, even Mrs. Green. Without giving any spoilers, I’ll say the expertly woven plot has something for everyone: fractured friendships, tense family relationships, late night adventure, secr Karen Strong’s middle grade debut opens with red velvet cake, and it just gets better from there. JUST SOUTH OF HOME is an absolute delight. I fell in love with the spunky cast of characters right away and found myself both laughing and crying as I moved through the story with Sarah, Janie, Ellis, Jasper, and yes, even Mrs. Green. Without giving any spoilers, I’ll say the expertly woven plot has something for everyone: fractured friendships, tense family relationships, late night adventure, secrets, and GHOSTS!!! I highly recommend this one!
    more
  • Gillian
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written and perfectly paced, JUST SOUTH OF HOME will keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with the characters. These characters! Sarah, the main character, is a terrific kid. Janie, her cousin —not so much, but at the same time you feel for her and are rooting for her. But Sarah’s little brother is my favorite—he’s adorable! And their grandmother is unforgettable, I can absolutely hear her voice in my head. I don’t want to give away the plot but I will just say GHOST story, Beautifully written and perfectly paced, JUST SOUTH OF HOME will keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with the characters. These characters! Sarah, the main character, is a terrific kid. Janie, her cousin —not so much, but at the same time you feel for her and are rooting for her. But Sarah’s little brother is my favorite—he’s adorable! And their grandmother is unforgettable, I can absolutely hear her voice in my head. I don’t want to give away the plot but I will just say GHOST story, a town that needs to heal, family, friendship, and red velvet cake. Highly recommended!
    more
  • Shauna Holyoak
    January 1, 1970
    I love everything about this book, especially the spunky, true-to-life characters. This perfectly paced ghost story will draw in young readers as they learn about a town's dark history and the ability of resourceful and empowered kids to effect change. The strong and authentic voice is reminiscent of Jason Reynold's BRAVE AS YOU and Kate DiCamillo's BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. Make room on your shelves, because this one is a keeper!
    more
  • Jen Vaughn
    January 1, 1970
    A YA book that deftly handles a lot of challenges facing kids today (and many yesterdays) like racism, family responsibilities, small towns vs large cities. Great for kids and adults.
  • Jenna (Falling Letters)
    January 1, 1970
    Review originally published 6 May 2019 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher.The last middle grade title I reviewed features Black kids in a small town and a speculative fiction plot; I called it “a fun summer read” (review of The Last Last-Day-of-Summer ). Those descriptors also apply to Just South of Home, but these two books are quite different from each. Sarah’s meant to supervise her younger brother and big city cousin over the summer when they find themselves tang Review originally published 6 May 2019 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher.The last middle grade title I reviewed features Black kids in a small town and a speculative fiction plot; I called it “a fun summer read” (review of The Last Last-Day-of-Summer ). Those descriptors also apply to Just South of Home, but these two books are quite different from each. Sarah’s meant to supervise her younger brother and big city cousin over the summer when they find themselves tangled up in a haunting connected to the town’s past. More historical mystery than scary story, this book uses haints (a Southern term for restless ghosts) as a way to explore the past’s relationship with the present.The haints in Just South of Home are mostly non-communicative. They are an occasional presence, usually spooky and sometimes scary. While they haven’t done any harm yet, old Mrs. Whitney warns Sarah and co. that if the haints can’t find peace, they may become evil spirits. The haints function primarily as a way to address the town’s history. They are spirits of people killed at a time when the Ku Klux Klan dominated the town. The narrative is framed around remembering and honouring the past rather than trying to forget or ignore it.A secondary plot that’s just as significant as the one above focuses on evolving friendships. At the start of the novel, Sarah frets because she hasn’t heard from her best friend Jovita since Jovita but not Sarah received an invitation to a popular mean girl’s birthday. Jovita, the mean girls, Sarah, and Janie run into each other a few times over the course of the novel. Sarah learns that she can be good friends with Janie, and begins to recognize that maybe Jovita isn’t a great friend. Sarah doesn’t completely reconcile her relationship with Jovita, which I appreciated for its realism.Miscellaneous thoughts:- Sarah is a huge astronomy lover. Her knowledge of astronomy and her willingness to research it helps her deal with the haints.- I would have liked a bit more about how/why the haints were woken up. I didn’t think of it until after I finished the book (was it just Janie taking the locket?), but I don’t think it was fully addressed. The conclusion is pretty abrupt.- Writing this review has made me think I should create a ranking from least to most scary of the spooky/ghostly middle grade books I’ve read….The Bottom Line: Karen Strong makes a strong debut in Just South of Home, a unique entry into the field of ghostly middle grade fiction for the way it addresses a small town’s racist history.
    more
  • Shaye Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Just South of Home is a very suspenseful middle grade novel that explores the racist history of the South. Astronomy-loving Sarah Greene, her brother Ellis, and Ellis’ best friend Jasper all live in Werrenville, Georgia. When they suddenly receive news that their difficult cousin, Janie, will be coming down from Chicago to stay with them (while her mother auditions for a film in Hollywood), they aren’t excited in the least. Janie hates their town and wants nothing to do with her cousins. Meanwhi Just South of Home is a very suspenseful middle grade novel that explores the racist history of the South. Astronomy-loving Sarah Greene, her brother Ellis, and Ellis’ best friend Jasper all live in Werrenville, Georgia. When they suddenly receive news that their difficult cousin, Janie, will be coming down from Chicago to stay with them (while her mother auditions for a film in Hollywood), they aren’t excited in the least. Janie hates their town and wants nothing to do with her cousins. Meanwhile, their emotionally-distant grandmother, Mrs. Greene, is unhappy that twelve-year-old Sarah has been placed in charge of watching Ellis and Janie for the summer, so she is badgering their parents at every turn — even threatening to punish the kids with a switch. But when the kids are confronted by a gang of haints at the cemetery next to Creek Church (which was burned down by KKK about 70 years ago), they discover they need their grandmother now more than ever. Will they be able to work together to save their ancestors before they are beyond redemption?This book is a great combination of history, mystery, creepiness, family, and friendship, where the focus continually returns to healing — healing of ancestors, healing of dissolved friendships, healing between neighbors, and healing of current family. I enjoyed seeing attitudes slowly change between various relationships. For example, Sarah learns important details about a friend who dismissed her in recent months, Janie begins to understand and open up to let her cousins in, and Mrs. Greene softens as she discovers her crucial responsibility to her family and the town — everyone is learning how to put their past to rest and move forward.The spookier portions of this book reminded me a little of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward while the mystery portions reminded me of the vivid action involved in The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Also included are a stream of astronomy tidbits tossed into the story line for the many science-lovers out there! This one will be an exciting addition to any middle grade library. There are already at least THREE starred reviews (including Kirkus and Booklist) on this title!! TRIGGER WARNING for mentions of violent historical racism including church burning and lynchings. There’s also mention of punishment by switch.My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for offering an e-ARC so I could provide my honest review. This title hits shelves May 7th and I heartily recommend! For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!
    more
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I loved everything about JUST SOUTH OF HOME—most of all how it embraces the importance of family, friends, and having a community. At the start of the story, Sarah is trying to understand the distance her best friend has placed between them at the same time she (not so excitedly) welcomes her cousin for the summer. The exploration of these friendships (and Sarah’s relationship with her wonderful, hilarious, loveable brother Ellis) alongside their discovery of the ghosts of Warrenville, weave tog I loved everything about JUST SOUTH OF HOME—most of all how it embraces the importance of family, friends, and having a community. At the start of the story, Sarah is trying to understand the distance her best friend has placed between them at the same time she (not so excitedly) welcomes her cousin for the summer. The exploration of these friendships (and Sarah’s relationship with her wonderful, hilarious, loveable brother Ellis) alongside their discovery of the ghosts of Warrenville, weave together so perfectly. This story is fun and adventurous and thoughtful and spooky, filled with love (as Sarah’s family is close-knit and caring—even Mrs. Greene, though she has a firmer way of showing it). The violent history of the town is handled with such care as Sarah and her friends remember and honor the past. This is absolutely one of my favorite reads this year!Thanks to NetGalley for providing the e-arc.
    more
  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    One of my favorite 2018 reads was THE PARKER INHERITANCE by Varian Johnson. If you, too, were a fan of the way he wove together the past and present, the heavy and the light-hearted, into a fascinating and compelling historical mystery—boy, have I got the book for you!I first "met" Karen Strong when we both entered #dvpit in spring 2016. I was immediately drawn in by the pitch for her spooky middle grade mystery, and I've been impatient to get my hands on JUST SOUTH OF HOME ever since it sold! I One of my favorite 2018 reads was THE PARKER INHERITANCE by Varian Johnson. If you, too, were a fan of the way he wove together the past and present, the heavy and the light-hearted, into a fascinating and compelling historical mystery—boy, have I got the book for you!I first "met" Karen Strong when we both entered #dvpit in spring 2016. I was immediately drawn in by the pitch for her spooky middle grade mystery, and I've been impatient to get my hands on JUST SOUTH OF HOME ever since it sold! I can honestly say that not only did the story live up to my expectations, it exceeded them. Strong has written a beautiful mediation on memory, trauma, and the damage that can be done when we refuse to confront the difficult moments in our past. Sarah is an engaging and relatable narrator, and I especially loved the gentleness with which Strong depicted Sarah's female friendships—with her former best friend, who's been acting oddly; and with her cousin, who starts as something of a frenemy but reveals more and more layers as the book goes on.And maybe most importantly, JUST SOUTH OF HOME is genuinely FUN, with a delightfully creepy mythology anchored by haints, curses, and the neighborhood historian, who's the only adult who seems to see things for what they are. (And then there's Sarah's formidable grandma, who's far more terrifying than any ghost!) Like THE PARKER INHERITANCE, JUST SOUTH OF HOME feels to me like the rare middle grade book that will genuinely appeal to both kids and adults.JUST SOUTH OF HOME releases in May. Don't miss it!!! (Art card by the wonderful cover artist, Geneva Bowers. An e-ARC was provided to @mgatheart by the publisher for review.)
    more
  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    Interest Level: 3-6Do you believe in ghost? Sarah doesn't... or she didn't until that summer. Sarah was excited about her summer plans - she was going to get to stay home, babysit her little brother, and read all of the astronomy books that she wants to. This may not sound glamorous but considering that their previous summers have been spent at their overly-strict grandmother's house getting worked to the bone. Little did Sarah know that everything was about to change. Sarah's aunt gets an offer Interest Level: 3-6Do you believe in ghost? Sarah doesn't... or she didn't until that summer. Sarah was excited about her summer plans - she was going to get to stay home, babysit her little brother, and read all of the astronomy books that she wants to. This may not sound glamorous but considering that their previous summers have been spent at their overly-strict grandmother's house getting worked to the bone. Little did Sarah know that everything was about to change. Sarah's aunt gets an offer to be in a movie in Paris so her daughter, Janie, has to stay with them. Janie is not happy to be there in this small country town with no excitement and she lets everyone know about it. Now Sarah is not only having to babysit Ellis, she is also having to babysit Janie, even though she is only a year younger than her. Things start off very rocky with these three but when Ellis tells Janie a ghost story about Creek Church, everything changes. Creek Church was burned to the ground about 70 years before by the KKK. Rumor is that many restless spirits haunt the area and if you take anything from the area, a ghost will follow you home. Since there is nothing exciting in the town, Janie convinces Sarah to go out there. She finds a necklace on the ground and she decides to take it. As they are leaving they see a little boy and Sarah has no idea who it is. When they wake up the next morning there is a message written on Sarah's window that says "take it back". This begins a summer that they will never forget! They learn that the little boy is a restless spirit being held to the land until one of his kin releases him. Can Sarah, Janie, Ellis, and their friend Jasper find a way to release him without angering the other spirits? Will Sarah and Janie find a way to put aside their differences and work together, or will they continue to be enemies? Will they be able to trust any adult to help them, or are they on their own? Read this fantastic book to find out the answers to these and many more!I loved this book!!! I can not wait to share this book with my kids at school!! A majority of my kids love a good ghost story and this one will not disappoint them!! I love the way Karen Strong develops these characters as the summer goes along. Of all the characters, my favorite is a supporting character, Ellis. He has such a dry sense of humor. The scene can be in a very serious moment and he will say something and just crack you up. This is a must read book for 2019!!!Follow me:Blog - Blazer Tales - https://blazertales.com/Facebook - Laurie’s Library Place - https://www.facebook.com/LauriesLibra...Instagram - laurieslibrary - https://www.instagram.com/laurieslibr...Twitter - @laurieevans27 https://twitter.com/laurieevans27?lan...Goodreads - Laurie Purser - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1...Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/auburngirl2...YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCulD...Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-ev...
    more
  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and the author for giving me an opportunity to read an eARC of this book (I tried many ways to get my hands on it, and I so appreciate Karen's help!)It's summer, and Sarah is finally old enough to be in charge of herself and her younger brother, Ellis, rather than spending it under the watchful eye of her grandma, Mrs. Greene. Her plans are thwarted when her cousin, Janie, unexpectedly ends up staying with her family. Janie isn't prepared to quietly sit around Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and the author for giving me an opportunity to read an eARC of this book (I tried many ways to get my hands on it, and I so appreciate Karen's help!)It's summer, and Sarah is finally old enough to be in charge of herself and her younger brother, Ellis, rather than spending it under the watchful eye of her grandma, Mrs. Greene. Her plans are thwarted when her cousin, Janie, unexpectedly ends up staying with her family. Janie isn't prepared to quietly sit around and read books with Sarah, and leads the kids into a situation that finds them facing haints (ghosts), discovering a secret, and becoming involved in history of the town that still haunts it. What I loved most about this book is it felt like a roller coaster ride; there was a great balance of realistic story with the high drama of the supernatural aspects, and though it was somewhat scary at points it was never excessively so. I enjoyed the way the kids learned about the terrible history of their town without it feeling like a dark book. I loved watching Janie develop and seeing her stick up for Sarah on more than one occasion. And all of the characters are becoming more independent, questioning and challenging lost-held beliefs, and discovering their own answers. This book is released on May 7th, and it definitely has my recommendation.
    more
  • Priscilla Kraut
    January 1, 1970
    It was a good book for middle school students. It has ghost and a mystery to keep them entertained but it also shows them how if you over come your hate that you can heal. The story centers around Sarah, Ellis, Janie, Jasper and it takes place in the town of Werrenville which is outside of Atlanta. Sarah loves science and is looking forward to September when she can meet her idol and ask him questions. Ellis is Sarah’s brother who like to build model cars and loves to pray. Janie is the cousin w It was a good book for middle school students. It has ghost and a mystery to keep them entertained but it also shows them how if you over come your hate that you can heal. The story centers around Sarah, Ellis, Janie, Jasper and it takes place in the town of Werrenville which is outside of Atlanta. Sarah loves science and is looking forward to September when she can meet her idol and ask him questions. Ellis is Sarah’s brother who like to build model cars and loves to pray. Janie is the cousin who was dropped off to spend the summer with her family who is from Chicago. She also has a sticky finger problem. Finally, Jasper is Ellis’s friend and lives in the trailer park. These four kids come together to help heal the town of their hate at how the people have been treated over the last decades and put to rest the unsettled ghost of the town.This earned four stars because the ending of the book seemed to rush. I felt like the author wanted to keep the book’s page numbers low so middle school student would read it. They might feel the same when 2 side adult characters all sudden became friends instead of being enemies. Overall, I know that this would be one book that I would place in my classroom for my students to read.Thank you Netgalley, the publisher, and author for allowing me to have an advance copy of this book.
    more
  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    JUST SOUTH OF HOMEBY KAREN STRONGSIMON AND SCHUSTER CHILDREN’S PUBLISHINGSIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERSCHILDREN’S FICTIONPUB DATE 07 MAY 2019I am reviewing a copy of Just South Of Home through Simon and Shuster Children’s Publishing and Netgalley:Sarah is twelve years old and is finally in charge. She can spend her Summer Reading her favorite science books and bossing her younger brother Ellis home. She does not have to worry about being worked to the bone by her strict Grandmother JUST SOUTH OF HOMEBY KAREN STRONGSIMON AND SCHUSTER CHILDREN’S PUBLISHINGSIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERSCHILDREN’S FICTIONPUB DATE 07 MAY 2019I am reviewing a copy of Just South Of Home through Simon and Shuster Children’s Publishing and Netgalley:Sarah is twelve years old and is finally in charge. She can spend her Summer Reading her favorite science books and bossing her younger brother Ellis home. She does not have to worry about being worked to the bone by her strict Grandmother Mrs. Greene. But when her cousin Janine arrives Sarah’s plans are squashed.Janine is good at getting into trouble and asks her cousin to take her to Creek Church, a landmark in their little town that she had been told was haunted. The church happens to be off limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis and his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family.If you’re looking for a good Middle Grade read one filled with adventure and strong characters. A character that middle grade girls who are interested in adventure,I give Just South Of Home Five Out Of five stars!Happy Reading!
    more
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher for the free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.Sarah’s summer is just beginning, but it may not be quite as perfect as she hoped. She just learned her Chicago cousin, Janie, is coming for a visit. Janie, who thinks their small town of Warrenville couldn’t be more boring and has a knack for getting into trouble, is going to be sharing Sarah’s room for the next two weeks.Janie is intrigued by Warenville’s disturbing history which involves the Ku Klux Klan Thank you to the publisher for the free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.Sarah’s summer is just beginning, but it may not be quite as perfect as she hoped. She just learned her Chicago cousin, Janie, is coming for a visit. Janie, who thinks their small town of Warrenville couldn’t be more boring and has a knack for getting into trouble, is going to be sharing Sarah’s room for the next two weeks.Janie is intrigued by Warenville’s disturbing history which involves the Ku Klux Klan and restless spirits. It all centers on a burned down church and forgotten cemetery, which are strictly out of bounds for Sarah, Janie and Sarah’s brother, Ellis to explore. But… Janie doesn’t follow rules so she and Sarah discover a little more than they thought possible.This story will keep you turning the pages and your children begging for time for “just one more chapter”. It is full of the supernatural, as well as realism about a dark time in U.S. history.
    more
  • Ash Van
    January 1, 1970
    Just South of Home is written in a vivid, authentic southern voice that weaves together the spooky unsettled business of the rural Georgia town of Warrenville with the changing relationships of 12-year-old fact-loving Sarah. Dark history meets unflinching honesty, compassion, and community as Sarah and her young family members look for answers.Not only does Karen Strong's voice shine as she writes about the difficulties, warmth, and humor of family bonds (I giggled and cried), but I also found m Just South of Home is written in a vivid, authentic southern voice that weaves together the spooky unsettled business of the rural Georgia town of Warrenville with the changing relationships of 12-year-old fact-loving Sarah. Dark history meets unflinching honesty, compassion, and community as Sarah and her young family members look for answers.Not only does Karen Strong's voice shine as she writes about the difficulties, warmth, and humor of family bonds (I giggled and cried), but I also found myself shivering and peeking out my blinds at night, checking for creepy spirits. This book is a must-have for summer reading lists (or any other time of year, for that matter!!). If I could give it six stars, I would.
    more
  • Carey Blankenship
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Karen for giving me this novel to read early. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and it did not disappoint. I am a sucker for anything middle grade, Southern, and dealing with ghosts, so this book had my most three favorite subjects combined into one. You can tell this author is truly Southern, because her atmosphere just leaks off of the page. I felt right at home in this world, and I loved tagging along in the adventure these children have. Ever Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Karen for giving me this novel to read early. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and it did not disappoint. I am a sucker for anything middle grade, Southern, and dealing with ghosts, so this book had my most three favorite subjects combined into one. You can tell this author is truly Southern, because her atmosphere just leaks off of the page. I felt right at home in this world, and I loved tagging along in the adventure these children have. Every single character stole my heart, and I sympathized with the kids on their strict grandmother (I had one of those too). It was the perfect combination of creepy, mystery, and fun. I devoured it in just a couple of days. I'm super looking forward to anything else this author writes!
    more
  • Jess Redman
    January 1, 1970
    I definitely enjoyed my stay in Warrenville! JUST SOUTH OF HOME is a Southern ghost story and so much more. The characters are memorable and fully developed—I loved responsible, astronomy-loving Sarah, outspoken Janie, wise-cracking Ellis, the maybe-root witch Mrs. Whitney, and even the kids' stern, no nonsense, red velvet cake-making grandmother Mrs. Greene. This story is fast-paced, witty, and delightfully spooky. And underpinning this ghost story is the story of Warrenville, a town with an al I definitely enjoyed my stay in Warrenville! JUST SOUTH OF HOME is a Southern ghost story and so much more. The characters are memorable and fully developed—I loved responsible, astronomy-loving Sarah, outspoken Janie, wise-cracking Ellis, the maybe-root witch Mrs. Whitney, and even the kids' stern, no nonsense, red velvet cake-making grandmother Mrs. Greene. This story is fast-paced, witty, and delightfully spooky. And underpinning this ghost story is the story of Warrenville, a town with an all-too-common history of racism and violence that Strong addresses skillfully, keeping it age appropriate without compromising truth. The four characters develop confidence and independence as they face the past that their town has been afraid to confront. I highly recommend this wonderful story.
    more
  • Isabel Sterling
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful and delightfully spooky middle grade novel full of heart. I loved Sarah and her love of science and the solar system. Her brother Ellis is hilarious (and much more interested in fried eggs than ghosts or haints!). And the slow-to-build friendship between Sarah and her cousin Janie was really great to see. LOVE!
    more
  • Stephanie Lucianovic
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a perfect summertime read for kids. I can feel all the summer vacation sinking into my childhood bones.
  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    Not at all what I was expecting! True-feeling relationships, history and a bit of creepiness!
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great middle grade mystery- full of suspense without being too scary. I am all ready for the next adventure with these characters!
  • Roselle
    January 1, 1970
    This is sure to be a timeless classic. I wished this book was around when I was a kid. Strong’s excellent grasp of setting matches her lovely prose. I can’t wait to follow her career.
  • Rajani LaRocca
    January 1, 1970
    A spooky southern story about Sarah, a smart 12-year-old, her hilarious little brother Ellis, their annoying cousin Janie, and mysterious happenings in their little town. Full of humor, heart, and chills, this story will appeal to young readers who like ghost stories and family stories. A fun read!
    more
  • Ceillie Simkiss
    January 1, 1970
    Read my full review here!
Write a review