Make Me a Home by Tamra Norton
Reviewed by Michele Ashman Bell

There is nothing better than curling up with a good book and completely losing track of time. That’s what happened when I picked up Make Me a Home, by Tamra Norton.

The story is about Allie, a character from Norton’s previous book, Make Me a Memory. Allie is a sixth grader who has just moved from Killeen, Texas, to Edna, Idaho, while her military father finishes his time in Iraq.

Having her father gone is difficult for Allie, and the only way she can keep in touch with him is through email messages. These emails are sprinkled throughout the book and give the story a nice punch of reality without weighing down the plot. Through these email exchanges we understand how difficult it is for families to be apart, especially during a time of war.

As Allie tries to adjust to a new school and new friends she quickly learns that she doesn’t fit in with the kids at school, especially the popular group of girls, led by Celeste Holt, the ultimate snob.

Allie is thrilled when a new student named Ivy joins their class. Ivy is from California and is also quickly snubbed by the popular group. The teacher asks Allie to show Ivy around the school and help her get acquainted with the other students. As the two girls spend time together they feel an immediate bond of friendship and discover that suddenly Edna, Idaho, isn’t such a bad place after all.

Still struggling with having her father gone, Allie’s heart goes out to Ivy – who has difficulties with her own family situation. Ivy’s parents are divorced and her mom moved her and her family to Edna because her mother is marrying a guy they’ve nicknamed Farmer Dirk. And the worst part is, Farmer Dirk is Celeste Holt’s uncle!

There are so many things I liked about this book. First of all, it is a very easy and enjoyable read. Norton has a way of sprinkling in just the right amount of humor to keep the reader entertained, but also giving us a solid plot that it easy to relate to.

Norton also has a knack for realistically portraying the thoughts and feelings of sixth grade girls. No matter what the reader’s age, most will remember a time in grade school when we felt awkward or out of place. Allie’s story is filled with laughter and frustration, but, as Allie grows and learns to deal with the challenges of life, there’s a feeling of joy and satisfaction at the end of the story.

Not only were the main characters well done, but there were several secondary characters that added just the right spice and humor to give the story some rich texture and interesting flavor. In particular was Allie’s grandma. Norton did a superb job with this character, making the grandma a memorable and important character in the story.

One of Grandma’s biggest quirks consisted of all of the famous sayings she had for just about every occasion under the sun. “Why don’t we take it to bed and hope we don’t squish it in the middle of the night,” was grandma’s advice for making an important decision. Or, “When life throws a punch, remember to duck,” was grandma’s advice for handling difficulties that came along.

I also appreciated and enjoyed the patriotic message in the story, as Allie understands the importance of what her father is doing in Iraq and how proud of him she is that he is fighting for the freedom of our country. I was particularly touched when Allie and her father are reunited, a scene that I found myself looking forward to and hoping for throughout the entire book.

Make Me a Home , is a wonderful story that I highly recommend. Kids will have fun reading it and they will also gain an appreciation for the families who are dealing with having a parent or loved one serving overseas in the military .

Make Me a Home by Tamra Norton
Bonneville Books, 158 pages

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