Publisher: Random House Audio
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Edition: Audiobook, 3 Hours 19 Minutes
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5 Stars
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
Crenshaw is a very light fantasy novel with some heavy topics, in fact the term contemporary fantasy seems to fit it quite well. Despite the really beautiful and whimsical cover that heavily features Crenshaw, this is not a book that matches it’s cover. It’s a tough read, with real issues and really imperfect characters.
This is less a book about imaginary friends and more about real world stress and how it can affect kids, even when their parents think they’re doing a decent job of covering up the problems. In Crenshaw we see financial hardship, homelessness, medical problems, and a fierce need for independence from his parents…and all of this comes back to rest on Jackson’s shoulders. There is a part of me that hates these parents, because clueless much? But there is a lot of reality in this, and I remember being in a few similar situations as a kid with my parents completely unaware that I knew and worried over financial issues and their marriage. My parents were always there for me, but that added ‘responsibility’ made me seek independence/maturity really quickly, much like Jackson.
I will say I’m a bit disappointed that Crenshaw took a more backseat role in this, considering how much he is featured in both the summary and the cover, BUT even with his diminished role he’s still one awesome cat and the story doesn’t suffer because of it.
The audio is fantastic! It’s read by Kirby Heybrone and he does a phenomenal job, especially with Crenshaw’s voice!
Overall this is a really great middle grade book…but I feel the cover sells it as something else entirely and that could be somewhat disastrous for someone who is expecting a whimsical life lesson from an imaginary friend.