Title: Otherwise Known as Possum
Author: Maria D Laso
Genre: Middle Grade
Length: 240 Pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Source: Amazon Vine
Reviewed by: Jasmyn
Possum Porter has had it with change. First she lost Mama, leaving a hole nothing can fill. And now, instead of trying to return to some kind of normal, Daddy's sending Possum to school. A real school, where you have to wear SHOES. Where some Yankee teacher will try to erase all the useful things Mama taught Possum during their lessons at home.
So Possum comes up with a plan. If she can prove that she already knows everything worth knowing, Daddy will let her quit school and stay where she belongs. She won't have to deal with snooty classmates, or worry about tarnishing Mama's memory.
But unfortunately, Possum doesn't shoot to the top of the class like she expected. Even worse, the unmarried Yankee teacher seems to have her eyes on someone . . . Possum's Daddy. With time running out, Possum decides to do something drastic to get away from school-and get Daddy out of Ms. Arthington's clutches-or risk losing everything that's keeping her broken heart glued together.
I fell in love with Possum Porter from day one. A young girl growing up in a small town that doesn't have much but gossip. Still reeling from the death of her mother and baby brother, I was instantly thrust into Possum's world and didn't want to leave. Possum is quite the tom-girl, more comfortable in her cover-alls and bare feet, running through the woods and learning from the world around her.
But her father is lost without her mother. Deciding she needs to go to school, against her wishes he tells her she must attend the one-room school house. Determined to prove she doesn't need it, she goes up against the school bully, attempts to win an essay contest, and makes new friends. Learning all the way.
There are tons of great characters in the book that surround Possum. From the teacher, the school kids, and even one of their parents. Life was very different back then and I fell like Maria D Laso captured that feeling perfectly.
In the end, I bawled my eyes out. Yes, a middle grade book made me cry and I'm not ashamed to admit it. The last scene was beyond touching. It moved me in ways I find hard to explain. I think this book needs to be in every library and every school. Capturing this girl's moment in time was priceless.
**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**