I was thrilled to be invited as a participant in the Heirloom book tour. In fact, I was thrilled to find the series for my tween son, who loves nothing better than to help me in our large garden on a warm summer morning. It’s sufficiently scary for tweens without being overwhelmingly so. It’s definitely middle grade, but this adult has also enjoyed it immensely. (Read my sons reviews of Seed Savers: Treasure and Seed Savers: Lily.)
The setting of Seed Savers is futuristic, the government more oppressive than it is today. Large corporations have taken over the food supply and the government agencies that regulate it. Growing food has become illegal for private citizens. Yet a thriving Seed Savers movement, those individuals dedicated to preserving the old way of life, won’t let the art of food production and preservation die.
Heirloom is actually the third book in the series. In the first (Treasure), three children—siblings Clare and Dante and their friend Lily—get caught up with this grass roots movement. When GRIM, the government’s food policy enforcement agency, catches up to them, Clare and Dante must flee. The second book (Lily) tells what happens to Lily when she is left behind. Of course, she is drawn ever deeper into the movement and learns she has some startling connections to its beginnings. Lily was my favorite so far.
Heirloom continues a split story. Clare and Dante are living with a host family in Canada and taking advantage of that country’s freedom to learn all they can about gardening. While this story line is a bit slow, it does give some information about the history that led up to the present food situation in America. The politics are probably beyond most tweens—they’ll most likely gloss over it—but it makes logical sense to an adult and fills in some holes. The real excitement takes place in Lily’s half of the story. GRIM gets very close once again, and Lily’s not sure who to trust. She finally takes off on a personal mission of her own, much as Dante and Clare did, but in an entirely different direction and with an entirely different motive.
I love the premise of this series, and as a gardener I identify strongly with it. While I absolutely loved the smoothness of the story and the beautiful prose found in Lily, Heirloom had some rougher moments, particularly as Lily’s story is told in the first person. It’s more stylized, with more fragmented sentences and many, many phrases set off with commas, which portrays the tumultuous thoughts playing in her brain. I personally prefer the smoother beauty of a third person narrative. However, Heirloom is not lacking in truly artistic moments.
I was startled by several minor profanities this time around. Usually I just mention them in passing so parents know they’re there. But as they’ve been happily absent in the first two books, I thought I’d express my regret to find them in book three. I understand why they’re used. The character they are associated with is a rough, backwoodsy sort, and they fit him well. I could forgive them in an adult book, but this is very much middle grade fiction. In particular, it’s a series I have urged my kids to read because of the high quality of the writing and the absolute absence of negative factors. Finding profanity now feels a bit like a betrayal. I think the readership would be better served if this particular individual spoke with more creative, colorful expletives (sam hill, goldurned, dagnab, thunderation, blasted, etc.) rather than vulgarity. Just one mother’s opinion. (Ms. Smith answered this by mentioning there is also one d*** in Lily (that I totally missed), beside one in Heirloom along with three h***s. Mild, but there. A tough decision for a writer.)
In conclusion, however, I thought this third installment was a strong addition to a very enjoyable series.
S. Smith grew up on a farm with a tremendously large garden. She maintains that if you can’t taste the soil on a carrot, it’s not fresh enough. Although she now lives with her husband and three cats in the city, she still manages to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyard garden.
A licensed ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Ms. Smith has enjoyed teaching students from around the world.
Ms. Smith is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and an OSU Master Gardener. She gardens and writes at her home in the beautiful and green Pacific Northwest.
Want to catch more stops in tour? Find the schedule here.