Ebb & Flow

Heather Smith's free-verse middle-grade book tells the story of a boy with a shameful secret.

Heather Smith

"One summer, after a long plane ride and a rotten bad year, I went to Grandma Jo's. It was my mother's idea. 'Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.' I think she needed a change of scenery, too. One without me. Because that rotten bad year was my fault." 

Thus begins the poignant story, told in free verse, of 11-year-old Jett. Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a new town for a fresh start after his father went to jail. But Jett soon learned that fresh starts aren't all they're cracked up to be. When he befriended a boy with a difficult home life, Jett found himself in a cycle of bad decisions that culminated in the betrayal of a friend — a shameful secret he still hasn't forgiven himself for. Will a summer spent with his unconventional grandmother help Jett find his way to redemption?

Writing in artfully crafted free-verse vignettes, Heather Smith uses a deceptively simple style to tell a powerful and emotionally charged story. The engaging narrative and the mystery of Jett's secret keep the pages turning and will appeal to both reluctant and avid readers. This captivating book offers a terrific opportunity for classroom discussions about the many ways to tell a story and how a small number of carefully chosen words can have a huge impact. It also showcases the positive character traits of empathy, resilience, courage and responsibility. (From Kids Can Press)

Ebb & Flow is a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

From the book

I was flipping,
and flopping,
churned up
like the rough sea


There it was.
The place I was taken from
when Dad went to jail.

From Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith ©2018. Published by Kids Can Press.


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