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Everything But: A Review of Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony

I saw the cover of Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony and fell in love. The colors, the scenery, the two girls set apart from one another… I had a story in my head as soon as I saw it. I picked it up shortly after its August 2, 2016 release day via my Kindle. There was a huge overnight push once I was into it to finish it. It was riveting.

Alexandra and Josh have two daughters–Tilly and Iris. They live in D.C. and seem to have a great life, until Tilly’s erratic (at the best of times) behavior devolves into foul words, fits of rage and licking surfaces. Alexandra has used all of the things at her disposal, including really expensive counseling services with the well-known child behaviorist Scott Bean. At $400 a pop, Josh is not happy, until Bean’s words begin helping. The family soon is invited to be part of Bean’s new community and help other families. The four members of the family leave all of technology behind in the hopes of getting Tilly, and the rest of her family, the help they need.

The camp, known as Harmony, is in New Hampshire. What was once an old camp is now home to the CF (Core Families) and Scott. They don’t have cellphones, or tablets or computers. They give up their keys for the communal good/use. And each week, they’ll host new families who have kids who range on the spectrum. A mysterious game called Werewolf Bean only plays with the children is the catalyst to burns, detentions and Bean’s anger. Soon Iris and Tilly find themselves in the middle of an even bigger mystery at Harmony.

Told from the point of view of Alexandra (mostly in the past), Tilly (mostly in the future) and Iris (mostly in the present), Parkhurst takes the challenge of creating multiple voices and masterfully conveys those voices to the reader. Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony is both a love letter to those families who are challenged by members and an object lesson about the value of family.

Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony is a great Summer read.

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