Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
January 1, 2022 Alexandra Adlawan


Let’s starts out the year with an amazing historical fiction set during The Great Depression.

4th Grade and Up

Life isn’t like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple.

She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she’s never met.
Florida’s like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It’s hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.


You know a story is going to be good when it starts out like this:

Everyone thinks children are as sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten. The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder. Kids get away with it.

I love that because it’s true.


Turtle is smart and mature for her age. She has a smart mouth and knows first-hand how rotten kids can be. She had to be tough, growing up during the Great Depression and taking care of her mom who often got her heart broken.


Picture it. Key West, Florida 1935. It was the midst of the Great Depression and the age of Little Orphan Annie and Shirley Temple. Basically the book is about what everyday life was like during the Depression. I like stories that take place before the internet and video games, when kids had nothing better to do then to get into trouble.


I thought it was odd how almost everyone in Key West had a weird nickname, most of them not all that flattering. Here are a few examples:

Beans, Pork Chop, Too Bad, Slow Poke, Johnny Cakes

I guess times were different back then.


The reason why this story feels so authentic is because it was inspired by the author’s own family stories of living during the Depression. The Author’s Note explains which characters were based on real people and includes black-and-white pictures of the town.


In conclusion, this is a well-written story with great dialogue between characters. A perfect summer read.


This story is so amazing that it was adapted into a graphic novel. The artwork is great but a lot of the dialogue is left out so I recommend reading the novel first and then the graphic novel.


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