In a bittersweet story about honoring a loved one’s memory, 12-year-old Ellie has returned to the United States with her father after living in Paris. They are both adjusting to a new reality without Ellie’s mother, who died of cancer in France. Ellie knows that there is much of her brave, vivacious mother to be found in the children’s stories she left behind—and that bringing her mother’s writing into the world will provide solace. But Ellie is unable to guess the password that will allow access to her mother’s computer—a password that her mother seems to have changed shortly before her death. Aertker’s narrative transitions between the present day and the family’s time in Paris, including Ellie’s mother’s diagnosis, treatments, and death. Through the expansive, well-conveyed flashbacks, Ellie reflects on her family’s painful ordeal and her vividly portrayed mother’s eternal optimism in the face of her illness. While there are tear-jerking moments, Aertker’s novel doesn’t dwell on the family’s sense of loss, instead focusing on Ellie’s crystallized recollections and life’s steady drumbeat forward. Ages 9–12. (BookLife)
Young Ellie had just lost her mother to cancer and had to move back from Paris to the United States when she decided to finish the books that her mother could not finish, but the computer is not letting her in. As you go back and forth during present day and living in Paris, you learn how Ellie coped with learning how her mother has cancer and all the bad things that come with it. It's only during the present time when Ellie wants to finish the books that her mother started in Paris but doesn't understand why the password was changed just right before her mother died.
It takes a friend in the present day for Ellie to remember what her mother said to her on her last on earth that will unlock the computer and the possibilities that come with honoring her mother's legacy!
I have to say that this was a book that explains death in a way that kids will understand and feel for what Ellie is dealing with without totally getting kids confused on the whole process of losing someone with cancer. Plus, the whole journey of Ellie trying to find the password to unlock the computer just made this book even more bittersweet for what she wants to do in order to honor her mother in the best way possible! I'm not gonna lie, this book will make you cry during certain points of the story but that ending will truly make up for it!
Thank You to Paul Aertker for this heart-warming tale that will make you cry while having a smile on your face!
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the Author! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley!
Thank You and have a Great New Year!!
Texan Holly Reads / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest
Beautiful and emotional, Posthumous is about Ellie, a twelve-year-old girl trying to deal with her mother’s death.
Life in Paris is pretty great for Ellie and her parents. Ellie’s father, Calvert, works for the man who would have been the king of France. Ellie’s mother, Etta, writes travel stories for children, though she has never been published. Then one day Etta complains of bad back pain, and life changes very quickly.
In the first half of the story Ellie describes the process of her mother dying, how Etta tried to stay positive, and of the friends and neighbors who rallied around her family. Tears are guaranteed as the story tracks the family’s enormous grief.
After Etta passes, Ellie and her father move back to the United States. Ellie wants to get her mother’s manuscripts published. She enlists the help of new friends in this endeavor, as well as in making a new home.
The novel is both sad and lovely. Ellie’s reactions to the loss of her mother are authentic, as are her expressed feelings of powerlessness. Her bravery and tenacity when it comes to Etta’s manuscripts serve as a powerful tribute to a daughter’s love. Children who have lost a parent will relate to Ellie and find comfort in sharing her story, but empathy is ensured for all.
Posthumous is about love and hope and finding joy, even through incredible loss. It is a deeply moving story that belongs on any juvenile bookshelf.
Reviewed by Catherine Thureson
The Bookies Bookstore rated it 5 stars: it was amazing
Paul takes a real turn in his writing here and I think it may be an important moment in his career. I can give one passage as a perfect example. His detailing the death of the mother, how it went from 'everything is okay and it's a backache' to 'nothing is okay and your world is over/changed' was perfect. Plus, in an endless stream of stories aimed at this age group that focus on YOU FOUND A SECRET MAP IN THE ATTIC or something fantastical as that, the deconstruction of the genre to something as simple as 'your mom's computer's password isn't what it should be and you can't ask her what it is' is a brilliant and bold move. Paul was already a great writer, but we're all anxious to see where this new direction takes him in general.
Some of the things I liked best about this book was how it kind of had a layer of suspense about the password. It kept switching from the past in France to the present back in America. Another thing about this book was that there were lots of little phrases or words that Ellie really kind of stressed and emphasized so it made you wonder if that was going to be the password or not.-- L.M., age 12
5.0 out of 5 stars
A delightful, moving, solid page-turner that is witty and memorable.
July 11, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
A colorful, solid, deeply-moving middle-grade book that, with great sensitivity, deals with death. Posthumous is not a sad story about a girl losing her mother to cancer. It’s a story about a girl finding a purpose and finding herself through a set of meticulously laid out clues only a mother could leave before dying. Set in Paris and an American town that could be anywhere, Posthumous weaves a plot bristling with energy, humor, and heart.
Like Aertker’s Crime Travelers series, Posthumous is a page-turner. You might ask, how is a story about a girl living in Paris with her dad and terminally ill mom who writes children’s books a page turner? What propelled me from the first page to the last in a single day were Aertker’s carefully woven themes: loss, new beginnings, friendships forged, shifting parental dynamics and the deep desire of an adolescent girl trying with all her might to unlock (literally) her mother’s story.
What’s amazing about this book is, even though we learn on page two that Ellie’s mom dies, we have to keep reading to uncover the layers of significance this has for Ellie, and ultimately ourselves, as we become inextricably tied to this young protagonist’s quest for meaning and a way forward after losing her mom. This story had me getting off the city bus mid-chapter, walking up the sidewalk, book out, reading, and yes, crying. I was hooked on this story.
In Posthumous, there is a mystery to solve, a departed mother’s final manuscript locked in a password-protected computer and the password to find in a heap of clues. Add a cast of vivid, international characters, Paris’s vibrant heartbeat and a collection of American middle schoolers trying to figure out “the new American girl from Paris” and you’re in for an enjoyable read. Cap it off with an ending you would never predict and you have a winning book that leaves you thinking about these finely crafted characters, the meaning of motherhood and its impact on our children, and what true friendships really mean.
KC NYC TEACHER
" I must share with you that I read "Posthumous" over the weekend and it was wonderful. The reader can feel the emotions while reading, and I thought perhaps you wrote from experience...then I read "A Note..." about your friend. The book resonates warmth, emotion and understanding. Thank you again."
In this middle-grade novel, a young girl embarks on a mission with new friends to save and share her late mother’s unpublished manuscripts.
Twelve-year-old Ellie Kerr has just moved back to the United States after living in Paris for four years, and she has a mission. Her mom, who recently succumbed to ovarian cancer, left behind an unpublished series of stories about “kids who travel and save the world,” along with a pile of publishers’ rejection letters. Ellie is determined to get them published, but she can’t access the manuscripts from Mom’s computer. Oddly, her mother secretly changed the password before she died, and the security protocol protecting it will destroy all of the computer’s data after too many consecutive wrong guesses. Even dad’s intelligence agency-trained, computer-whiz assistant can’t hack the system. Ellie, with the help of her new friends from school, aims to find the answer to the mystery. It turns out to be proof of her mother’s deep love and respect for her—and a reminder that inclusiveness and kindness can always defeat fear. Aertker (Priceless, 2016, etc.) threads this message fairly evenly throughout the narrative...
The book’s first half, in which Ellie relives her time in Paris, will have a powerful impact on readers. As Ellie’s happiness at home and at her multicultural school fades with her mother’s illness, Aertker doesn’t sugarcoat Ellie’s perspective. The physical and emotional toll on Mom, and Ellie’s emotional ups and downs as she experiences shock, denial, hope, anger, and grief, have a poignant authenticity. The author also offers other sympathetic characters, including Munda, a cook and aspiring medical student from the West Indies, and Ellie’s father’s driver, Antoine, a cello-playing jazz musician.
A frank, moving observation of a young daughter remembering her mother with purpose and strength.
Message: Hi Paul! It was a pleasure to read these scenes from your book. I just finished narrating a few books for Anne-Marie Meyer, one of which was written in the voice of a teenage young lady and I love how vulnerable and insightful those characters can be. It seems Ellie is just wonderful. Thanks so much, let me know if you have any notes or questions. -Liz Krane (Also, I certainly hope I pronounced your last name correctly on the slate, apologies if I made a mistake!)
Message: Hi Paul! I was super excited to see your book here. You once did a Skype with my 5th Grade class, back when I was still teaching. This story is so touching. It should get picked in Hollywood for sure! Anyway, no matter how the auditions go, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to reading more of your works. - Sharon Betzold
Message: Hello Paul, I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed auditioning for this book. As I was recording the audition script, I really liked switching from different characters as I love doing different accents. P.S. My brother really enjoyed reading the Crime Travelers series as he was *literally* glued to it until the very end! Thank you
Posthumous is associated with other great novels including
hey kiddo book
sisters smile book
smile book series
smile comic book
only one you
a wrinkle in time
a wrinkle in time book
being a big sister book
big sister book
gary paulsen books
girls books age 10
hey kiddo book
island of blue dolphins
sisters in books
the girl who drank the moon
the sisters book
who was books
wrinkle in time
wrinkle of time book
inside out and back again
smile and sisters book
the thing about jellyfish
smile sisters drama
Pretty good company for the Foreword Reviews Indie Book of the Year Bronze Winner!