Dear Sweet Pea

by Julie Murphy
October 2019 / Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (US)

A voice-driven sassy but loveable plus-size narrator tackling all the relatable friendship and family woes that kids face today.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco now lives between her two parents’ two different homes in Valentine, Texas. Her parents are going through a divorce, and they had the brilliant idea of living on the same street, just one house away from each other. In that house lives their eccentric neighbor Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist of “Miss Flora, Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy (even if the commute is). It doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex-best friend Kiera, a daily reminder of what she is missing. Things might be just about unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have her new best friend Oscar and her fifteen-pound cat Chester by her side.

Then one day, Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. When Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the envelopes, what she decides to do with the letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the life of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and the readers of “Miss Flora, Mae I?” in Valentine, Texas.

After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie Murphy now writes full-time. She is the author of the young adult novels Dumplin’ (now a film on Netflix), Puddin’, Ramona Blue, and Side Effects May Vary. She lives in North Texas with her husband. You can visit Julie at

Praise & reviews

“Funny, honest, and lovably resilient.” —The New York Times

“Murphy creates a wonderfully realistic portrait of tween life in her first middle-grade novel… Sweet Pea is a treasure of a protagonist.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)

“Endearing and funny… An excellent blend of eccentricity, humor, genuine sweetness, and mild drama.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With gentle humor, ageless wisdom, and charming, genuine characters who represent a diversity of experiences, Murphy’s novel offers all the emotional highs and lows of pitch-perfect middle grade.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

« Murphy succeeds yet again at crafting a touching, quotable coming-of-age story, this time exploring divorce, shifting friendships, crushes, queerness, and much more. » — School Library Journal (starred review)

“Full of cringe-worthy but funny seventh grade moments… [there’s also] plenty of room for more serious reflection about the people around her in her small Texas town, a cast diverse in ethnicity, sexual orientation, and body size as well as in attitudes.” — Horn Book Magazine

“Successfully handles tough topics with humor.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Dear Sweet Pea is a truly irresistible story about a family in flux, brimming with humor and heart.” — Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me