Haven Jacob Saves the Planet -- Book Review


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Do you have eco-anxiety? Do your kids? Do you know what eco-anxiety is? I will admit I didn't until I read today's book. Today I get to share the latest book from Barbara Dee. The book is Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet. Now if you have been reading my reviews for a few years, you know I love Barbara's books. This is probably my second favorite of them. My first is Maybe He Just Likes You

From the Publisher:

From critically acclaimed author Barbara Dee comes a middle grade novel about a young girl who channels her anxiety about the climate crisis into rallying her community to save a local river.

Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem—and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.

When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.

But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife—but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.

She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job—and some friendships—in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.

From Me:

Raising a highly sensitive and highly anxious child, this book resonates with me. Although Hazel does not seem to have eco-anxiety to the extent of Haven. Her anxieties are about so many other things including some social ones that Haven has as well. I love how this book normalizes the fear of climate change and society not doing enough. I love how this book has kids demanding to be heard and it brings into the sphere of adults, through teachers and parents, these concerns that are making our kids sick with worry. Let's face it pollution, global warming and such are huge issues that we need to be talking about. Even if as adults we are somewhat ignoring it, our kids are not. This book brings this to the forefront.

This book is easy to read. The story flows well and the characters are well developed. I kept wanting to read it and not put it down. There is the social drama including some middle school girl drama. Afterall how can a book about middle school not include girl drama. There is even a bit about family. Her parents are not understanding Haven's anxiety. They try to look past it and treat it as just something she needs to see a therapist for, which she does, but it is more. Haven's older brother however gets it. He has it too and he supports her for once. It is a far cry from his normal teasing. Haven finds herself and her voice through the book and taking action about the river. She gets help from her teachers and friends as well as parents and friends' parents, but she makes many missteps along the way. It is truly a book about middle school life and a fun read. It is another one of Barbara Dee's successes!