“Janae Marks offers readers hope in this appealing novel of friendship and second chances. Exploring powerful themes, such as responsibility, loyalty, and forgiveness, A Soft Place to Land is a joy!”
— Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA
In this compelling and heartfelt mystery story, Janae Marks—author of the acclaimed bestselling From the Desk of Zoe Washington—follows a young girl reshaping her meaning of home. Perfect for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.
“Joyful. A book that kids will love.” —Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But then her dad lost his job, and suddenly, home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold.
A friendly new neighbor her age lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble?
Joy is determined to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between trying to raise funds for her music lessons, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.
"Squeezes your heart in such a special way." —Lisa Moore Ramée, author of A Good Kind of Trouble and Something to Say
“Readers will find hope in Joy’s courage, ingenuity, and fierce dedication to her friends.” —Kate Messner, author of Breakout and Chirp
“A timely story about connection, loss and the spaces we need to understand one and brave the other.” —Paula Chase, author of Dough Boys and So Done
About the Author
Janae Marks graduated from the New School with an MFA in writing for children. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s spending time with her husband and daughter at home in Connecticut. From the Desk of Zoe Washington is her debut novel. Visit Janae online at www.janaemarks.com.
"A Soft Place to Land confirms Marks’ status as one of the brightest new stars of contemporary middle grade. Whereas Zoe Washington explored injustice and systemic racism, A Soft Place to Land explores class in a story-driven way that never feels heavy-handed." — BookPage
“Blending mystery with realistic fiction, Joy’s story of how complicated life is for a kid will resonate with readers in tender and poignant ways.” — Booklist (starred review)
"At turns poignant and affirmative, this sophomore novel by Marks (From the Desk of Zoe Washington) imparts invaluable messages on growing up, being honest, and communicating feelings to loved ones." — Publishers Weekly(starred review)
"This relatable story touches on topics such as divorce (Joy's parents briefly separate, then reconcile), the ups and downs of having a job at a young age, and the difficulties that arise from keeping secrets from family and friends. . . There is a diverse cast of characters with different experience . . . VERDICT An engaging coming-of-age story that will appeal to a wide range of readers." — School Library Journal
"This poignant look at friendship, loss, and facing consequences hits all the right notes. It will squeeze your heart in such a special way. Marks tenderly blends mystery, compassion and the highs and lows of friendship in a perfect melody. A Soft Place to Land will have readers cheering for Joy and longing for a hideout of their very own." — Lisa Moore Ramée, author of A Good Kind of Trouble and Something to Say
“A wonderfully timely story about connection, loss and the spaces we need to understand one and brave the other.” — Paula Chase, author of Dough Boys and So Done
“A joyful story about the power of being kind and sticking together when life gets bumpy. A Soft Place to Land is a book that kids will love.” — Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me
“A Soft Place to Land perfectly captures how complicated it is to be a kid. Readers who have faced times of change and uncertainty of their own will recognize themselves in Joy and find hope in her courage, her ingenuity, and her fierce dedication to her friends.” — Kate Messner, author of Breakout and Chirp
"A bittersweet story of silent perseverance and kids working for themselves." — Kirkus Reviews
"This exceptionally sweet debut from Marks illustrates profound cracks in the American criminal justice system while telling an affecting story grounded in the middle-grade experience. The troubling ways race affects the characters…will facilitate important conversations about racial profiling and incarceration rates for people of color. Fortunately, Marks’ capable storytelling and engaging characters also combine into a wondrous confection of a book, full of heart and hope and promise.” — Booklist (starred review)