Ginny is used to moving. Even at age 11, this is fifth move. That’s what happens when your dad is military. But her dad’s surprise deployment throws off Ginny’s confidence. Now, in Ginny Off the Map by Caroline Hickey (Christy Ottaviano Books, June 2023), Ginny faces a new house and neighborhood and a long summer without her dad. She needs his constant, friendly, and moderating presence. How can Ginny find her new place without him?
Ginny is an academic and she longs to find a kindred spirit with whom she can swap geography and earth science facts. But being herself feels lonely because no one else seems to relate. It doesn’t help that her sporty older sister seems to blend right into the neighborhood with her carefree personality. Ginny is loveable, even with her self-centered facts and sense of righteous indignation. In some ways we are all like Ginny: completely unique in how we read people, react to new situations, and try to be friends.
Her story, which is highly relatable, is about starting over, finding friends, and dealing with disappointment. When our camp (or other activity) is canceled, we too would be inconsolable. Gathering with her friendly community reminded me of my own 1980s cul-de-sac of friends. Do other neighborhoods gather for night games like this anymore? My current neighborhood does not, really. We’re just two sides of a street. Of course, I also loved the predictable way the sisters came together at the end.
Of course, Ginny Off the Map didn’t end 100% tidy. Ginny still hasn’t been accepted into her school of choice so she might be riding the bus with her sister everyday for regular public school. Her dad will still be deployed in Afghanistan for many more months. I want to know how school will go and which friendships will blossom for Ginny. Will she find a geography kindred spirit? Those are wishes. Ultimately, her change is complete, for now. Ginny knows she can make it to a comfortable place, one day at a time.