Publication Date of Book: August 2002
Melinda Skye was a bright, intelligent, and driven little girl. To her, Jesse Rose was her best friend, a boy deeply attached to all things Melinda. From first grade and on, these two were joined at the hip. Leaning on and confiding in each other like only best friends do, it was no surprise when they felt something more towards each other later on in the book. This story is one of loss, love, and life beautifully written through "letters, journal entries, e-mails, doctors’ reports, and instant messages."
From a young age, Melinda and Jesse connected with each other. Jesse even attended Melinda's first ballet recital for the Nutcracker, presenting her with a single rose that he bought all by his little self for the end of her performance. When Jesse's parents started to have problems and decided to separate and divorce, Jesse was still young, and the Skye family was there for Jesse and practically took him in as one of their own. The Roses were very grateful towards Lenny and Elana, Melinda's parents, because Jesse's mother had to work while Jesse was supposed to be brought home from school. Jesse was deeply against going to an after school care program and preferred to spend his time with Melinda and her family. The Skyes even made him his own room in their basement. It was because of this arrangement that Jesse and Melinda had a very hard time adjusting when Jesse has to move away with his mother. Separated, the two decide to email each other so that they could keep in touch no matter what.
As they grew up, Melinda became an amazing ballerina, working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a prima ballerina and work for a huge dance company. As she worked her way up the ranks, she got more important parts in the annual Nutcracker performances and was invited to an elite dance opportunity taking place during her summer vacation. She later became best friends with Bailey, a boy-crazed girl at her school. At the same time, Jesse got into skateboarding and began to have problems with his father who started to want to become more involved in his son's life. Jesse is conflicted with this due to his loyalty to his single mother and her decision to go to college while his now married dad lives in New York with his new family. During all of this, Melinda and Jesse talk about all of the previously mentioned things above contained in their personal messages to each other. Despite their distances, can these two fall in love, especially at such a young age?
Suddenly, Melinda collapses during one of her special dance opportunity classes and is rushed to the hospital. It is here that she finds out that she has leukemia. She is only in her beginning teens and has a promising future ahead of her. Everyone has to bear with it one day at a time, including her and her parents and friends. Melinda wants to see Jesse soon, and he can't wait to get to her, but what will happen after they see each other for the first time in years? Will what they feel for each other make it through all of the e-mails and phone calls, or was it all just a dream? And most importantly, will Melinda make it through these tough days or lose the battle against her disease?
There are certain authors whose books I can continuously read, over and over again, year after year. People like Rick Riordan, Darren Shan, Neal Shusterman, and...Lurlene McDaniel, are just a few. Lurlene McDaniel always seems to amaze me. Despite the fact that this book was only a short novel that consisted of 208 pages, it packed an amazing punch. All of her books do. By punch I mean that her stories leave me thinking about them for days. She puts a lot into those pages, so much so that you wish it was longer. They're beautifully written and full of heart and soul. This is one of my favorites of hers.
Melinda and Jesse were so cute together when they were little. The letters that they wrote to each other from first grade started out with Jesse signing his name from "Signed, your friend" to "Your friend" changed to "Your very good friend." It's really adorable. As they get older, you really get to see more into their lives, their dreams, and their struggles. While it may sound that you only get to hear from Jesse and Melinda, you also get to read things from each of their parents' perspectives. This was really interesting. Not only did you get to see the hardships that the two teens face through Melinda's treatments, but you are also able to see into the eyes of what parents must go through in these situations. I can't even imagine what people must go through when their children get sick. It's unthinkable. However, I think that Lurlene McDaniel does a great job portraying this. She's an amazing author whose written over fifty young adult books. That's a huge achievement!
I felt like Jesse and Melinda were real people. The problems they went through were what people today have to experience all the time, divorce, sickness, relationships, and loss. While this type of writing, in letters, conversations, and the like, may seem odd or unapproachable, but it was brilliantly executed in this book. McDaniel outdid herself with this one. Melinda just felt so real. She never gave up on her dreams and desires, no matter what happened to be thrown in her path. She was a true fighter, a true hero. Jesse was also a true hero. He fought for what he wanted and for Melinda, giving up so much so that he could give her things that would make her happy during the rough patches, including his skateboard.
A Rose for Melinda was ultimately awe inspiring. It was heartfelt and a truly great read. I think that many teen girls would love this story and all that it represents. It definitely deserves a roaring five stars for its unique voice and inspiring presence in literature today. I hope you have the chance to read it because if you do, I think that you won't regret it. Maybe, you'll love it as much as I have and share my same feelings!
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