Reviews for The Year the Swallows Came Early

A Bank Street Best Book for 2010

A Bookpage Best Book of 2009

A Booklist Top Ten First Novel for Youth in 2009

Nominated by SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association) for their 2009 Annual Book Awards

A California Readers Collection List Selection for 2010

A Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine Best Kid’s Book of 2009

A Best New Book listed by Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine

” Fitzmaurice’s lovely debut has all the hallmarks of a classic.”

Booklist Starred Review

“What all readers will appreciate are the beautiful portraits of the characters, young and old, and the way the story delicately weaves its seaside setting into the story. Groovy’s first-person narrative sensitively shows both her strength and her uncertainty, and in the end readers will understand when she finally embraces what she knows to be true: ‘You gotta forgive.’” – Ilene Cooper

Kirkus Reviews

“In this daring, emotionally complex story, both Groovy and Frankie try to figure out how to accept people, especially parents, for who they are without abandoning their own needs and their own developing notions of right and wrong. As in real life, not everything is resolved in the end, and many questions remain, but things have achieved a fragile balance, rather like the ingredients in a delicate sauce.”

“Eleven-year-old Groovy Robinson’s struggles to untangle the complicated lives of her parents are at the center of this gentle tale of hope and forgiveness. Fitzmaurice paints a picture of small-town life that is as warm, charming, complex, and as thoroughly believable as her characters. I loved this book!” – Ann M. Martin, Newbery Honor author of A Corner of the Universe.

School Library Journal

“The well-structured plot is underscored by clear writing and authentic dialogue, and short chapters keep the story moving. The book draws a parallel with the birds of Capistrano, and a novel that encourages understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness is as welcome as the returning swallows.”

Kidliterate Blog Review

“The mood in this book is exceptional; the characterization and voice true and original. Highly, highly recommended.”

Keri Collins, Blog review

“A book full of realistically drawn characters coupled with prose that reads like poetry, The Year the Swallows Came Early introduces an exciting & talented new voice in the world of children’s books.”

Teensreadtoo (5 Stars)

“Author Kathryn Fitmaurice’s writing is like poetry and her story pulled me in. Even though there was a lot packed into the story, the pacing was perfect and each chapter added a wonderful new layer to Groovy’s story.
This is a wonderful pick for readers looking for something unexpected.”

Shelf Awareness

One of the greatest reasons for being in the book business is to discover a completely original voice. The other is to put that voice into as many readers’ hands as possible. This is one of those voices–that of 11-year-old narrator Eleanor Robinson, named for her great-grandmother, a science-fiction writer, who goes by the nickname Groovy. Everyone should have a Groovy in their circle of friends. As this debut novel begins, Groovy must come to grips with some harsh realities: she may live in “a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific,” but appearances are deceiving. In fact, her house “was like one of those See’s candies with beautiful swirled chocolate on the outside,” but “coconut flakes on the inside, all gritty and hard, like undercooked white rice.” In the first chapter, Groovy’s father gets arrested, right there in front of the Swallow’s Shop and Ferry, as the two of them walk into town. Groovy has no idea why he was arrested, though she knows “Daddy seemed to get the kind of bosses who ended up firing him,” and she knows her friend Frankie doesn’t quite approve of Daddy. But when Groovy tells Mama, and Mama says that she’s the one who called the police, Groovy must rethink everything. (That’s the second chapter.)Fitzmaurice perfectly captures a small California town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. But this gifted first-time author also uses that setting as a foil for the many discoveries Groovy makes. No one is quite what he or she seems to be. What Groovy learns about her father may be a disappointing surprise, but she also learns some unexpected things about the wisdom and strength of her Mama, who owns a quarter of the town’s beauty parlor, about classmate Marisol Cruz, who seemed like she “wasn’t the nicest girl” but who comes through for Groovy not once but twice, and about even Mr. Tom the homeless man, who gives Groovy a mysterious message that ultimately helps her make sense of her rapidly unraveling world. Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson’s passion for cooking, for nourishing others and for constantly seeking to improve her recipes, her home life and her town results in a bounty of alluring sights, smells and tastes. (Chocolate-covered strawberries serve as a crucial plot element–do make sure you’ve eaten a good meal before reading, or keep snacks handy.) Fitzmaurice possesses a rare gift for keeping the narrative entirely and credibly in the mind of her sixth-grade heroine (“I remembered when Mama and Daddy and I took a week off to drive to the Grand Canyon, so I could see more of the world, and they could get away from it all”) as Groovy gains the maturity that comes from surviving seemingly unsustainable pain.