Sweeping Up the Heart is a cute little book by Kevin Henkes. Known mostly for his picture books, he has created some lovely middle reader novels.
However, the adult reader will realize that they have seen the subject, the message, before. This is not fresh, but for the aged 8 to 10 (or even up to a younger 12) it is a nice story of change and friendship. The subject centers around loss (via death and divorce), friendships (new and old), family, and love.
Our main character, Amelia Albright, is a typical, sweet, little nervous, unsure, preteen/teen, who is relatable. She is dealing with the fact her professor father is distant, their next-door neighbor/housekeeper is the most mothering she has had due to the death of her mother 10-years-ago, and that friendships can be both confusing and just what is needed. She learns you find what you need and not always what you want at the oddest times and places. And even, with the most unlikely of people. Set in a ceramic’s studio and Amelia’s home, Amelia learns how to connect with people and not just the clay she loves to get down and dirty with. When Amelia and her new friend Casey (the nephew of the woman who owns the studio) become friends over school break (one that Amelia wanted to go to Florida like her classmates, or France, to be with her best friend who moved there for a year), Amelia finds questions she never knew she needed answers to, and answers that come before the questions.
There is a not a lot of action, and what scenes are focused on are not necessarily traditional, it still is a story that moves along, keeping you wanting to learn more about Amelia and her friends. It would also make for a fun read aloud for a second to fourth grade classroom. And while, I do not think that the book is “edgy” it could be a lot for a more sensitive reader (the divorce, death, and there is a mystery about a woman that might just be following Amelia).