A Soft Place to Land
Author(s): Janae Marks
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. Two starred reviews! A Project Lit Club Book Club Selection, S&L Lead Title, and Kids' Indie Next List Pick!
“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
Praise for A Soft Place to Land: "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."
“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.”
"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."
"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."
"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."
“A wonderfully timely story about connection, loss and the spaces we need to understand one and brave the other.”
“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.”
“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.”
"A bittersweet story of silent perseverance and kids working for themselves."
Praise for From the Desk of Zoe Washington: “How could someone innocent end up in prison? With the help of her grandmother and her friend Trevor, Zoe begins to learn about systemic racism and how black people…are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people. This powerful debut packs both depth and sweetness, tackling a tough topic in a sensitive, compelling way. An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice.”