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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
All families are different. Some families have a mother, a father, and children. But there are many families that are separated or in some way incomplete for many reasons. Sassafras, or Sassay as her Mom sometimes calls her, lives with her mother and her grandmother. Her Daddy lives somewhere else; he’s married to another woman and has another family: twins. Sassay really wants to see her Daddy, but her mother won’t allow it as she has yet to forgive Sassay’s father for leaving them (and for many other reasons). Sassay keeps asking; her grandmother keeps pointing out that Sassay needs to see her father, and her father keeps trying to reach out to obtain the right to see his daughter.
In the midst of all this, Sassay’s new friend Selina joins her class, but can’t join in the fun because she wears leg braces. Selina lives with both her mother and her father, but her handicap makes her different. Then there’s Jeremiah, who lives with his father and his grandmother because his mother died of cancer and lives in heaven. And there’s Miss Cole, the teacher who tells her story of how she only lived with her mother and grandparents for many years until they were able to join her father. Everyone has a story and a hurdle to overcome, but as Sassay’s mother points out, it’s “the differences in people make us all special.” And, of course, it’s our faith in Jesus that makes us strong.
Denise C. Herndon Harvey’s children’s story Growing Up Sassafras: Where Is My Daddy? is a heartfelt story about the many different kinds of families and how faith and love keep families together no matter the cause of their separation, discord or disability. Each chapter is titled with the words of wisdom unveiled in the chapter and the chapter closes with an appropriate quote from the Bible to complete the picture of faith. Some very difficult issues are presented in this story: faith, forgiveness, unconditional love and the many kinds of family dynamics children are exposed to. Throughout it all, Sassay, even though a child, is a strong character, the one who understands, who loves unconditionally, who quite simply wants to see her Daddy. A very touching story.