Book Reviews

Review: The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Before I even finished The Might Heart of Sunny St. James I knew it was going to be a five star read. I’ve loved all of Blake’s past books, but I’m still catching up! This is my most recent audio book listen, and I loved it. Sunny has my entire heart and I’ll protect her forever. Keep reading this book review to find out all the reasons I love Sunny!


Twelve-year-old Sunny St. James navigates heart surgery, reconnections with a lost mother, first kisses, and emerging feelings for another girl.

When Sunny St. James receives a new heart, she decides to set off on a “New Life Plan”: 1) do awesome amazing things she could never do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) kiss a boy for the first time.

Her “New Life Plan” seems to be racing forward, but when she meets her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy at all. When the reemergence of her mother, Sunny begins a journey to becoming the new Sunny St. James.


TW: homophobia, alcoholic parent

Sunny has a lot going on in her life. The recent re-entry of her estranged mother, her heart transplant, and her new wonder about kissing a girl. While the terms adoption aren’t really used, The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James is so close! What did I love about Sunny? She’s caring, confused, and so relatable. My heart just aches for Sunny. And Blake is a master at manipulating our emotions, never delivering too many highs or lows – it was always balanced.

Listening to this audio book, felt like both receiving a giant hug and wanting to wrap Sunny up in my arms. My main criteria for middle grade reads are that they emotionally move me. And The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James hit it out of the park! It’s about our best friends drift away from us, when their absence feels like betrayal. At the same time so much of the story is about Sunny figuring out who she is. Now that her life isn’t in constant peril, who does Sunny want to be?

Sunny’s relationship with Kate and Lena, her guardian and biological mom, made me tear up multiple times. Those feelings of abandonment, of love, of wanting to confide and not knowing how. Sunny’s questioning her sexuality also went straight to my heart. It made my heart want to weep knowing that for girls like her, the world can be so cruel. How she has to navigate these moments of questions, while also processing the homophobia that surrounds her.

What more can I say? This queer middle grade took my heart on an emotional roller coaster. Of the best variety. Find The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite queer middle grade?

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