Book Review: Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher

Harry SueHarry Sue by Sue Stauffacher

Harry Sue’s parents are on the inside… in the joint… in jail, and there’s no chance they’ll be sprung anytime soon. Living with her bad-tempered and neglectful grandmother, Harry Sue is desperate to escape, so she devises a plan to reunite herself with her mother: she’ll embark on a life of crime and be sent to live with her mom in the slammer. If only Harry Sue’s “crew” on the outside didn’t need her so much, this would work like a charm.

Pure hearts are few and far between in the world, but Sue Stauffacher has created a character whose heart gleams golden even as her edges remain rough. Harry Sue tries to put her plan in action, but she is constantly distracted from her purpose by her need to care for those around her. She watches over the “crumb snatchers” in her grandmother’s daycare to make sure they’re safe and fed, and she daily distracts her friend, Homer Price (a quadriplegic who won’t come out of his tree house) from his own dark thoughts. She yearns for her absent mother, but her own plans to be near her are derailed by the mothering she must do for those around her.

Stauffacher doesn’t shy away from weighty issues like abuse, neglect and loss, but she juxtaposes them with jailbird slang, quirky humor and wacky events that keep this book entertaining rather than maudlin. She also includes a set of supporting characters that renew the reader’s faith in the human race’s potential to do the right things. West Michigan readers will also enjoy the book’s references to local landmarks.

Take a chance on Harry Sue and see if she ends up doing time, or if life has something better in store for her. You won’t be disappointed you did. And check our KDL’s author interview with Sue Stauffacher on the KDL website!


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Written by Vanessa


Vanessa is an Adult Services Librarian at the East Grand Rapids branch. She loves discovering new authors and passing along reading recommendations to anyone who will listen.

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