**Reviewed from a library copy**
Leaving the Bellweathers
by Kristin Clark Venuti
Meet Benway, the long suffering butler to the Bellweather family. Bound by an ancestral oath of service (200 years no less), he's spent his entire professional career keeping up with an inventing father, a mother who loves to repaint rooms, and their five children--who rescue dangerous animals, stand up for anyone who is opp, and create imaginative "art."
Benway introduces each chapter with a journal entry as he counts down the days until he'll be free to go Far Far Away from the family to enjoy peace and quiet. He's examining cottages, planning a garden, searching for a replacement and getting ready for his tell-all book about the (which will finance said retirement) to debut. Only, life is never quiet at the Bellweather Lighthouse and chaotic adventures that SOMEONE must clean up after riot around his ears. Only when the children begin to realize that perhaps their much overworked but beloved butler might leave do they consider a change--only with the Bellweather children, change is never what one would consider quiet and normal.
Venuti's debut appealed to me from the moment I started seeing reviews and the book lives up to the high praise bestowed upon it. Benway has a strong, clearly defined and refined voice and one empathizes with the deep sighs he utters only when out of the sight of his clients. She includes perspectives from the children of the family as well, bringing depth and providing motivation and the clear thought process of children and teens with a mission--rather than just singularly focuses holy terrors.
It's a fairly quick read, middle-elementary level but certainly enjoyable by most ages.