Halfway to Harmony
by Barbara O’Connor
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Releasing on January 12th, 2021
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION–Realistic
A heartfelt middle-grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Barbara O’Connor about a boy whose life is upended after the loss of his older brother–timeless, classic, and whimsical.
Walter Tipple is looking for adventure. He keeps having a dream that his big brother, Tank, appears before him and says, “Let’s you and me go see my world, little man.” But Tank went to the army and never came home, and Walter doesn’t know how to see the world without him.
Then he meets Posey, the brash new girl from next door, and an eccentric man named Banjo, who’s off on a bodacious adventure of his own. What follows is a summer of taking chances, becoming braver, and making friends–and maybe Walter can learn who he wants to be without the brother he always wanted to be like.
Halfway to Harmony is an utterly charming story about change and growing up.
I can happily admit that Barbara O’Connor’s newest book did not disappoint and is a wonderful middle grade book. Halfway to Harmony is full of heartfelt moments and characters that attach themselves to your heart.
Walter doesn’t know how to quite move on after his brother doesn’t come home from the army. He wants to see the world, but his brother isn’t there with him. In pops Posey, the eccentric girl who lives next door, who helps show Walter what he’s missing. She fills his summer with moments about taking chances and learning how to be brave. Posey brings him on adventures he won’t ever forget and creates long-lasting memories. She’s truly the definition of what being a true friend means.
This beautiful story is exceptionally written, with scenes filled with sunshine and unforgettable moments. O’Connor’s writing is exquisite and captures the essence of this story. She’s crafted a beautiful story that will not be easily forgotten. All the characters O’Connor introduces play an important role in Walter’s life, and she creates such fulfilling scenes with a valuable meaning behind them. I was impressed with this book, and it’s a great introduction into O’Connor’s work.
Overall, Halfway to Harmony is a middle grade story that’s charming and will you leave you feeling lighter and thankful for the people in your life. It’s a story I recommend to everyone looking for an adventurous read with a wonderful meaning.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Congrats on your next middle grade book! What was your inspiration for Halfway to Harmony?
Because I write stories set in the South, I’m often inspired by country music. The inspiration for the storyline in Halfway to Harmony involving the main character taking care of the pickup truck once owned by his deceased brother was the country song “I Drive You Truck” by Lee Brice. It’s such a sentimental and poignant image that I couldn’t resist using it.
As for the hot-air balloon, the idea of a balloon popped into my head out of nowhere. But then, the very same day, while running an errand, there in the sky ahead of me was a hot-air balloon! It was a sign, for sure.
Did your writing process change for this book compared to your previous novels?
Alas, no. I say “alas” because I would dearly love to have the story plotted and outlined before I start. But that never seems to work for me. I get a very hazy idea of the story and then just jump in and start writing. The story evolves during the process of writing it. Of course, I have to know the characters thoroughly beforehand, since they are the ones who lead me through the story.
What was your favorite part of writing Halfway to Harmony?
I loved writing the hot-air balloon key grab scenes. I learned about key grabs from Rick Bowers, the owner of Asheville Hot Air Balloons. In a key grab, all of the balloons are headed toward a common goal: a tall post with the keys to a new car or truck attached to the top. The contestants all strive to be the first to grab those keys.
If you could have your book turned into anything (a TV show, movie, musical, dance number, etc.), what would you choose and why?
A movie, for sure! I could actually picture all of those balloons in my head as I wrote. It would be great to actually see them on the big screen.
What is one of your favorite things about being an author?
Well, going to work in my pajamas is a bonus! But kidding aside, I adore children. Visiting schools and receiving letters from young readers is so rewarding for me and reminds me why I love doing what I do.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
First and foremost, READ. I don’t know a single successful author who doesn’t read.
In addition, I always tell aspiring authors not to get frustrated if they think what they are writing isn’t very good. You can always make it better. But you can’t fix what you haven’t written. Just get the words down and revise later.
Is there anything else you would like to let the readers know about your book?
Originally, the character of Posey didn’t have a dog. During the editing stage, my editor asked me if I could add a dog to the story. Most of my books have dogs and I think young readers sort of identify my work with dogs (such as How to Steal a Dog and Wonderland.) Of course I agreed and am so glad I did. I got to add the feisty, three-legged dog named Porkchop.
Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.
Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.
She currently lives in Asheville, NC. Her latest book is Wish, a middle grade novel published by FSG.
BOOK BLOG TOUR
Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post/Author Interview
Woven From Words – Book Review, Favorite Things About Halfway to Harmony
The Bookwyrm’s Den – Book Review
Belle’s Archive – Promotional Post
Nat Reviews Books – Book Review
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review
Turn the Page Tours – Book Review
Up for grabs during this book blog tour will be one (1) finished copy of Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O’Connor! To enter to win, follow along on the blog tour. This giveaway will begin on January 11th and end on January 18th at 12:00 a.m. CST. It will be open to USA readers only. There will be 1 winner.