This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy

This Would Make a Good Story Someday

From the author of The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher comes an epic cross-country train trip for fans of Dan Santat's Are We There Yet? and Geoff Rodkey's The Tapper Twins. Pack your suitcase and climb on board with the Johnston-Fischer family. Sara Johnston-Fischer loves her family, of course. But that doesn't mean she's thrilled when her summer plans are upended...

Title:This Would Make a Good Story Someday
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1101938188
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:320 pages

This Would Make a Good Story Someday Reviews

  • Jennifer

    Looooved it!

  • Stephanie

    This is such a sweet, fun and genuinely *likable* book with characters and situations that feel so real and relatable. When 12-year-old Sara's mother wins a writing fellowship to ride the rails for a month, their whole family - Sara's two moms, her rambunctious little sister, her activist older sister and her older sister's irritatingly sanctimonious boyfriend - ends up traveling around the US by train along with a second family they've never met before. Sara is desperately embarrassed by the wh

    This is such a sweet, fun and genuinely *likable* book with characters and situations that feel so real and relatable. When 12-year-old Sara's mother wins a writing fellowship to ride the rails for a month, their whole family - Sara's two moms, her rambunctious little sister, her activist older sister and her older sister's irritatingly sanctimonious boyfriend - ends up traveling around the US by train along with a second family they've never met before. Sara is desperately embarrassed by the whole spectacle of their traveling group, horrified to be stuck in such close quarters with her family for so long, and determined NOT to be written about in her mom Mimi's planned book about the experience...but she chronicles all of the details in her own private journal, which is combined in this book with blog entries from both Mimi and Sara's older sister, as well as postcards from Sara's little sister and notes from the boy who's determined to become Sara's friend along the way.

    All of the different voices are spot-on, and all the characters felt completely real. I kept remembering my own twelve-year-old diaries as I read this book, and I really felt for Sara in her paralyzing self-consciousness (which I definitely remember from my own experiences at that age!) as she tried to figure out how to reinvent herself in the midst of her loud, attention-grabbing family...which of course she finds just as embarrassing as every other 12-year-old in the world finds their own family...but one of my favorite parts of the book is the way that she starts to see them past her own preconceptions as the whole group is stuck together over the course of that month. (The older sister's boyfriend, for instance, seemed SO irritating to me as well at the beginning of the book, but turned out to be one of my favorite characters by the end! And I loved how beautifully that transformation occurred, as Sara - and I as a reader - got to see more and more facets of his character gradually revealed.)

    This book doesn't have the laugh-out-loud zaniness of Dana Levy's Family Fletcher books, but it is SO sweet and fun, so easy to sink into and enjoy, and I closed it with a happy sigh at the end. I would have happily read on for another 300 pages about this whole traveling group!

  • Dana Levy

    This book...oh, this book.

    First of all, disclaimer, in case you aren't paying attention. I wrote it, so be warned that I clearly have a subjective viewpoint. Second of all, it tried to kill me, metaphorically speaking. This is the third book I've published, probably the seventh full novel I've completed, and wow, did it fight back. For the longest time I circled this story, poking warily at it and trying to figure out how to subdue it into a funny, slice-of-life, honest family story. No idea wa

    This book...oh, this book.

    First of all, disclaimer, in case you aren't paying attention. I wrote it, so be warned that I clearly have a subjective viewpoint. Second of all, it tried to kill me, metaphorically speaking. This is the third book I've published, probably the seventh full novel I've completed, and wow, did it fight back. For the longest time I circled this story, poking warily at it and trying to figure out how to subdue it into a funny, slice-of-life, honest family story. No idea was too bad while I was brainstorming...robbers attacking the train, a treasure hunt for a million dollars, a traveling convention of Harry Potter fanatics...if you can think of it, I tried to put it in this novel. But no dice. Like feeding peas to a toddler, they came back faster than I could shovel them in.

    And there was no eureka moment, no epiphany when I knew how it would all turn out. Instead I managed to cram my fingernails into a crack between chapters, and, with sheer force of will, inch by inch, push it open until it let me in. Never have I been so unsure whether what I was writing was working or not.

    When I finally finished a draft and sent it to my unlucky first readers, I was convinced the best course of action was to light it on fire and walk away.

    But I was forgetting what I tell every group of school kids, what I tell my own kids, what I tell my writing partners: it's revision where the magic happens.

    I talked it over with my critique partners and my editor and my agent, and dove back in. Again. And again. And gradually, I grew to love it. I loved how Sara grows up during the journey. I loved that she didn't have words to describe the extraordinary landscapes she was seeing, landscapes so different from her New England home that she could have been on another continent. I loved the relationship between sisters, because my sister has been a touchstone my whole life. And I loved that she returned home different, even without a robbery, a treasure hunt, or a roving band of Harry Potter fans.

    Since I can't review it objectively, I'll just tell you what I wanted to write. I wanted to write a funny story. I wanted to write about the frustration of being twelve, and knowing you're being unreasonable but not being able to change how you feel. I wanted to write about sisters and social justice and seeing the world from a new perspective. I wanted to write about new friendships, and judging people before you know them. I wanted to write about a diverse family having an all-American vacation. I wanted to write a story that captures how it feels to be walking on that thin line between kid and teenager, and how that walk can be exhilarating, frustrating, and misery-inducing all in the same day.

    Did I succeed? Who knows? But let me tell you, while I was writing this book all I kept thinking, as I banged my head against the keyboard, was "well, I guess this really will make a good story someday." Here's hoping.

  • Shoshana

    Here's the thing: the more I think about this book, the more I love it.

    Where "This Would Make a Good Story Someday" lacks some of the zippy, laugh-out-loud humor of Family Fletcher (the book that made me an undying Dana Alison Levy fan) - though, to be sure, it has plenty of funny moments - it makes up for it with great thoughtfulness, and matter-of-fact addressing of major issues. "Good Story" touches (and often really delves into) on issues of racism, the environment, class issues, activism,

    Here's the thing: the more I think about this book, the more I love it.

    Where "This Would Make a Good Story Someday" lacks some of the zippy, laugh-out-loud humor of Family Fletcher (the book that made me an undying Dana Alison Levy fan) - though, to be sure, it has plenty of funny moments - it makes up for it with great thoughtfulness, and matter-of-fact addressing of major issues. "Good Story" touches (and often really delves into) on issues of racism, the environment, class issues, activism, "non-traditional" family structure, and even privacy in a largely digital age (between Mimi's blog, and Trevor).

    Sarah's activist sister, Laurel, pens occasional notes that fiercely address grim realities they encounter on their rail trip across the country, but Sarah also processes and considers these issues through her own, younger lens. As in Family Fletcher, Levy does not talk down to her audience, and the book is a million times better for it.

    I could go on for quite a while, about how relateable Sarah is, how perfectly Levy captures the love and friction of a close family, how I'm pretty sure the Aunties stole my heart... but suffice to say, this book is magnificent and I can't wait to put it in the hands of readers.

  • Ms. Yingling

    Public Library Copy

    Sara is all set to spend the summer with her two best friends figuring out who they are going to be in middle school, but instead, she is dragged with her older, college activist sister and her partner Root, her annoying younger sister Ladybird, and her two mothers on a cross country train trip that her Mom won. Mimi is along as well, since she is a lawyer and can work on the train. The other winner of the contest is a writer from Texas who brings his son Travis as well as an

    Public Library Copy

    Sara is all set to spend the summer with her two best friends figuring out who they are going to be in middle school, but instead, she is dragged with her older, college activist sister and her partner Root, her annoying younger sister Ladybird, and her two mothers on a cross country train trip that her Mom won. Mimi is along as well, since she is a lawyer and can work on the train. The other winner of the contest is a writer from Texas who brings his son Travis as well as an aunt and her friend. Sara would like to be a writer like Mom, so keeps lots of notes and memorabilia about the different places they visit and all of the family interactions in her journal. While it's not the same as spending the summer with her friends, she does manage to make some progress on her "reinvention" program.

    Strengths: If your readers like summer tales involving precocious children who want to study Latin, like The Penderwicks, then you definitely need to take a look. Sara's quest for reinvention is spot on, even if some of her decisions seems a bit odd. (Why would any 5th grader want to study Latin? We all know it ruined my life.)

    Weaknesses: Maybe there is an East Coast vibe to these books that doesn't translate well? Everyone is soooo politically correct and they talk about it all the time. Root annoyed me a LOT. I think the difference is that in Ohio, we act politically correct and are nice to everyone regardless of their lifestyle choices, but we just don't TALK about it as much. We're too busy making hot dishes, I guess. If Root were from Columbus, he's be working in a food pantry instead of marching in demonstrations. Plus, his name would be Noah, and his parents would be glad to have Mom and Mimi over for dinner, but would not once ask any questions about their relationship.

    What I really think: I did buy both Family Fletcher books (Frog is a friend of Ladybug's), but they just don't check out. They seem to skew a bit young-- maybe the cover style? I'm not sure about this one; may wait to make sure there is an Accelerated Reader test before purchasing.

  • Jen Malone

    I'm a lucky critique partner of Dana's and I got to read this gem of a book as it developed- I am completely charmed (as always) with the way Dana puts humor on the page. Her scenarios are so believable, yet absurdly delightful at the same time. I always end up snort-laughing my way through her pages. This one will not disappoint!

  • Barbara

    Twelve-year-old Sara Johnston-Fischer figures this will be the summer during which she will remake herself. She and her best friends have great plans for their break from school before starting middle grades. But when Mimi, one of her two moms, wins a writing fellowship that pays for a train trip crisscrossing the United States, Sara is less than thrilled about having to leave her friends behind. Although she loves her family, she also is embarrassed by their behavior at times and annoyed by the

    Twelve-year-old Sara Johnston-Fischer figures this will be the summer during which she will remake herself. She and her best friends have great plans for their break from school before starting middle grades. But when Mimi, one of her two moms, wins a writing fellowship that pays for a train trip crisscrossing the United States, Sara is less than thrilled about having to leave her friends behind. Although she loves her family, she also is embarrassed by their behavior at times and annoyed by the possibility of her words and deeds appearing in print. Along with her two sisters, Ladybug and Laurel, and Laurel's boyfriend Root, Sara and the family set forth on their rail adventure. When they are joined by the other fellowship winner and his son from Texas, Sara is disinterested in spending any time with Travis, instead choosing to write in her journal and record thoughts about the trip. Travis has a heart of gold, and keeps making friendly overtures, which Sara rebuffs for much of the trip. When his elderly aunt and her best friend join them, Sara starts seeing Travis in a different light. The family sees all sorts of beautiful scenery, eats great food, and soaks up the culture in the various places they visit along the way, and Sara starts wondering about how important the small goals she has set for herself actually are, especially compared to Laurel's determination to do good deeds and change the world. What I liked most about this book is how the family is not perfect. They disagree, argue, and sometimes even hurt one another's feelings, but still, they love each other, not a bad example for middle grade readers to have before them. There is plenty of humor woven into the story, but the author also tackles some tough issues including death and how to say goodbye as well as issues of self-esteem, risk-taking, and having an impact on the world. I liked having post cards, notes, and journal entries being used to tell a story with which many readers can relate. I enjoyed this author's books about the Family Fletcher who know this family well, but I also found this one quite endearing, reminding readers to squeeze every drop of joy they can from their experiences. Even when things don't look so flattering, they can always provide material for a possible short story or book. Honestly, Amtrak needs to give this author a lifetime pass because of the wonderful descriptions she provides of the delights of train travel and oh, the places those trains go.

  • Kate Schwarz

    Sarah is 12 years old and not very excited to go on the family rail trip with her family--which includes her two moms, two sisters, and one sister's boyfriend. But one mom wants to write a book on the experience (a reality-based book where like her blog, of which she's moderately famous, that reports on all the funny goings-on in a family) so they all get on board. Sarah's big summer project is the Transformation Project, where she's going to grow and mature and do new things. Like paint her nai

    Sarah is 12 years old and not very excited to go on the family rail trip with her family--which includes her two moms, two sisters, and one sister's boyfriend. But one mom wants to write a book on the experience (a reality-based book where like her blog, of which she's moderately famous, that reports on all the funny goings-on in a family) so they all get on board. Sarah's big summer project is the Transformation Project, where she's going to grow and mature and do new things. Like paint her nails gray or blue. Learn a new language (Latin). Dye a crazy color streak in her hair. But on board the many trains is another family with a son from Texas who helps her realize that she doesn't really need to transform at all. She's okay with who she is, as is.

    I've not read Levy's The Family Fletcher books, but the family in This Would Make a Good Story Someday is friends with that family--their littlest girl sends postcards to "Frog Fletcher."

    This is a very modern coming-of-age story--Sarah's already come to terms with her two moms (she has a dad, but he's off working in Alaska. Her mom divorced him and then married a woman), but she's working on liking herself. I thought the thread about Mimi writing about her kids on her blog, and Sarah not wanting to be shared and, I'd say, exploited a little, in her work was interesting. And timely--we moms do that a whole lot, whether on a blog or Facebook or another social media outlet of our choice.

    If you've read and liked any Maria Semple books, you'll like how Levy makes her story comes to life with one main point of voice--first person, Sarah--but adds in journals and blogs and postcards and letters to bring in other first-person narratives as well. I think it's well done.

    My biggest complaint of the book was how many facts and lessons Levy packed in. While on the train trip, the family stops along the way, and Levy packs in a bunch of facts about New Orleans and Chicago, to name a few. Also, while looking for images online, Sarah's new friend lectures her about internet safety and how most images can be found easily...this felt pretty heavy-handed to this (adult) reader, but I sure don't mind if my kids hear that message from someone other than me. Same goes with the Americana facts--if kids will sit to read those, they are all great and important.

    Finally, this made me want to jump on a train or back in my car and travel across the country, like I did last summer. I wonder if it'll make kids want to do the same? Overall, cute book.

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