A Middle Grade Novel by Suzanne Crowley
Available August 2018 in Hardcover, Kindle Edition and Audio CD

Amazon Editor’s Best Book Pick for Middle Grade
BookBub Editor’s Pick
Spirit of Texas (SPOTMS) Reading List (TLA)
Starred Review in Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Channel ABC WFAA Academy Book Club Pick


After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to the spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery–dinosaur bones peeking out underneath the abandoned tractor. The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away. Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

Amazon •  Barnes & Noble

Harper Collins
Greenwillow Books Imprint

Industry Reviews

  • Three months ago, Esme McCauley’s grandfather, Paps, died while riding his tractor on Solace Hill, and ever since she has felt that he’s been trying to tell her something from beyond the grave. Like her grandmother Bee, Esme has the gift of finding things with the help of a witching stick; when she’s compelled to search, she discovers a huge secret buried at the site of Paps’ passing: dinosaur bones. As she considers whether to tell anyone of her discovery, her friend Finch stumbles upon the find and secretly reaches out to a paleontologist, knowing the find could save the McCauleys’ farm from foreclosure. Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her, since her parents are more interested in livestock and artistic pursuits than their own daughter. A fascinating binary is at play about a girl who in many ways resents having to grow up but who has always been too mature for her age. Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.

    QB, Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
  • Though only 12, Esme McCauley has known a lot of sorrow, and the sting of Paps’ death is one she can’t shake. Her grandfather was one of the only people to ever show her love, seeing her parents drift through life at a distance, and her grandmother, Bee, is all business and no softness. Esme escapes her tangled family life on Solace Hill, the place where Paps died. When a storm exposes a bit of old bone on the hilltop, Esme starts to dig and discovers a dinosaur skeleton, which proves valuable in multiple ways. Light magic touches this small-town story, set in an era of telephone party lines and moonshine stills, as Esme grapples with her grief and the emergence of an unusual talent . Like Bee, she has a gift for finding lost things, but the task of finding where she belongs and how to save her family don’t come as easily. Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.

    Julia Smith, Booklist Online Exclusive
  • Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to. She lives in the rural South with her grandmother Bee, who is famous for her peach pies and ability to find most things; her mother, June Rain, who has been depressed and distant since Esme’s father Harlan left; her little brother Bo who is as “wild as the hills;” and their dog, Old Jack. Their lives are changed forever after Esme’s beloved grandfather, Paps, dies from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill. Esme struggles with losing Paps. While chasing fireflies with Bo, Esme discovers dinosaur bones. Could it be a message from Paps? Along with bringing reporters and researchers to the site, Esme’s discovery also sets her on a path to understanding the mysteries around her and coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather. VERDICT A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.

    Jess Gafkowitz, School Library Journal

Blog Reviews

  • Finding Esme is a quiet, lovely coming of age story . . . with an ageless, universal appeal because of its depth and emotion.  Crowley has crafted interesting, quirky, complex characters that pull you in . . . this was a story where I wasn’t ready to let go of the main character – she had wound her way into my heart.

    Jenn Beldon – Momma on the Rocks
  • Finding Esme , though geared for a middle grade audience (and appropriately so), has MUCH to love for all ages because of the timeless themes and struggles that define what it is to be human. . . . Finding Esme is a book that you want to quote line after line; its lyrical and beautiful.  Finding Esme is among my favorite middle grade books I’ve read, and even several weeks after finishing it, it sticks with me

    Kristine Hall – Hallwaysblogspot (audio review)
  • I’m old enough and have been around this business long enough to simply know what’s golden.  And let me tell you, Finding Esme is a diamond in the rough.  Finding Esme is a family saga, mystery, and coming of age story spun from pure gold  . . . rich in language and voice, this book has everything you hope to find in a Southern Gothic novel.

    Jennifer Silverwood
  • If you are interested in a well written, relatable, thought provoking, explorative, coming of age elementary/middle-grade novel, then this book is for you!  I recommend this book to all young readers to engage in a story that will encourage their sense of discovery and adventure.

    Ariel Hess -Librariel Book Adventures
  • Every once in a while you read a book and just know that this is the first of many times that you will read it . . . Crowley’s turn of phrase, character building and imaginative plot transport you to a completely different place.  There’s a whimsy of adventure that is tethered to the earth by the hardships of the time and the personal struggles of Esme.  This is a book that should be studied in a youth literature class . . . and is a mash-up of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, and My Daniel by Pam Conrad.

    Lorilei Gonzlaes - Missus Gonzo
  • One of the best parts of Finding Esme is the author’s ability to just grasp the personalities that spring out of the normally, impoverished rural areas and their grittiness, warm and personalities.

  • Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley is a delightful yet mournful coming of age story about a young girl carrying too much on her small shoulders.  Crowley presents a sweet Southern story about loss, abandonment, and the residual effects of leaving, either from death or by just walking away.  The pace, tone, and writing are quite smooth in Finding Esme, floating along on the wings of honeybees and fireflies.  The ending is a mix of heartache, melancholy, closure, and hope . . . leaving the reader with the satisfaction and joy in knowing that good people and good things are still out there just waiting to be found.

    Ruthie Jones - Reading by the Moonlight
  • Finding Esme is one of those books you will want to take your time and not rush through like a house on fire.  You will find many nuggets to savor peppered throughout the book, so take your time and enjoy the characters, imagery, and innocence of children.

    Storybook Reviews
  • Finding Esme is a perfect coming of age story. Esme’s tale is really about finding herself, finding where she fits in, and accepting what makes her stand apart from everyone else.  This character swept me off my feet from the very beginning.  She’s imaginative and thought provoking.    I could hear the hint of a southern drawl as she narrated, and it was easy to fall into a gently rhythm hearing her voice and falling into her story.

    Rebecca R. Cahill, author
  • Has anyone ever seen a studio Ghibli movie or read the books?  Reading Finding Esme reminded me of them quite a bit. It’s the transition between childhood and growing up, where the world seems bigger each day than it did before.  To me, this book was on the cusp of that and accepting those things we face.  I really liked Esme’s character from the beginning to end in this book.  Esme is clever, caring but level-headed, and does her best to be herself despite outside pressures.

    The Page Unbound
  • Finding Esme is a fantastical read which will tug at your heartstrings and leave you breathless.  It’s a quick read that you won’t want to put down.  At least, I didn’t.  I never wanted it to end if I’m being honest . . . amazing book!

    All the Ups and Downs
  • Finding Esme is a beautiful coming of age story that will keep you hooked until the last satisfying page.  A perfect book for your middle-grade child or library!

    Story Schmoozing
  • This is an incredibly charming story with the feel of a classic that is timeless and meant to be shared across generations.  Catching your attention from the opening line, the author’s writing is captivating as it draws readers into sharing this once in a lifetime moment with Esme.  Though written with children in mind, this is quite a phenomenal coming of age tale layered in an adult style that will resonate with older readers as well. 

    That’s What She’s Reading
  • This book is magical realism at its best.  This book has it all!  Magic.  Ghosts.  Mystery.  Witching Sticks.  Pie made of sun ripened peaches, a faithful ole horned toad (who may or may not really be a ghost) and of course, a faithful ole dog.  It’s a story as sweet as Bee’s honey.  As bewitching as a witching stick . . . Crowley’s writing is honey sweet . . . her writing voice as mesmerizing as a misty spirit in the night calling to the reader from betwixt the covers of Finding Esme.  I simply could not rest until I finished the book.

    Belle Whitington -Books and Broomsticks
  • Can a book make you smell peaches?  I know literally did not have peaches in my car as I was listening this audiobook but peaches give me a warm, at home feeling and this audiobook made me smell peaches.  That is the brilliance of Finding Esme.  Narrator, Cassandra Morris Texas’ drawl voice was perfect at narrating this story.  Her inflection and tone carried Esme’s voice vividly.  All the themes are beautifully and masterfully conveyed in this story.    While this book is a perfect story for middle-age  readers, older kids and adults may find it appealing, especially for young girls wanting inspiration to empower themselves.

    Forgotten Winds (audiobook review)

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