|I couldn’t wait to read Operation Yes, a new middle-grade novel from Sara Lewis Holmes. I was excited for many reasons:
1. I loved her first book, Letters from Rapunzel. It had real heart.
2. I know Sara online and enjoy her writing and her worldview immensely.
3. I enjoy improv. In fact, I went to see an improv show at ComedySportz right after reading this book, and I left wanting to take improv lessons again (improv lessons–doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron!). I knew improv somehow figured into the plot of Operation Yes, and I couldn’t wait to see how. In fact, I also love the book Improv Wisdom, which I’m 99% sure Sara recommended in the first place.
4. I grew up in Orlando near the Navy base, and my best friend’s dad was retired military. I often went on base–attended church there, ate lunch there, etc. It’s a cool setting, and one I’ve never seen featured in a kids’ novel.
And when I read the book, it was all that I hoped for and more. I won’t give away the plot, but here are a few things I love about what this book is about:
1. It’s about saying yes even when life sucks.
2. It’s about the power of one person to make a difference, to change other people’s lives, by connecting, joining, playing off of each other.
3. Bad things happen. This book acknowledges that, trusts kids with this knowledge (which they already have, anyway), and tells a story about what a particular few kids do with that knowledge.
4. It’s about the amazing things can happen when someone is willing to say "Yes, and…" (a major tenet of improv comedy). It’s about taking what life hands you and choosing to create a great life anyway.
5. It’s also about the power of the plan. I love to plan, and the whole dichotomy of improv and planning in this book drew me in totally.
6. It’s a dang good story. I’m drawing out the themes/philosophy of the book. And they resonated with me. But most of all, it’s the story of Bo, a boy living on base, his cousin Gari, who comes to stay with Bo’s family while her single-parent mom is deployed overseas, and their teacher, Miss Loupe–the most unusual teacher they’ve ever had (and, oh, how I would have loved to have had Miss Loupe for a teacher!). I wanted to know what happened to all of them and how they would possibly solve their big problems. And with humor, realism, and suspense, Holmes moves all their stories briskly forward to a conclusion that feels just right. I’m so glad I won a copy of this book from Sara! It was on my to read list anyway, of course. But the autograph from Sara, the personal connection I felt while reading it, that’s what the book is all about.
I nominated Operation Yes for the Cybils, and I hope you’ll head over there and start nominating some books you loved this past year too.