Sometimes life can just wallop you in the head like the missile of the title.
So 13-year-old Marley learns when her parents separate, her dad moves out and starts weeding his garden incessantly, the relationship with her two best girlfriends starts to unravel for good—and she meets Jack, a great-looking, baseball-loving boy. Then, to top it all off, she has to spend the summer with her father in his new house and deal with the job he’s lined up for her—caring for two adorable but bratty, needy 5-year-old twins, daughters of a neighbor who may or may not be Dad’s new girlfriend. Readers have seen this all before, but Vernick makes a very auspicious fiction debut here with her breezy, briskly paced tale, well-portrayed characters, authentic relationships and keen ear for realistic dialogue. The sweet, swoony young romance doesn’t hurt either, and preteen female readers will eat this up and learn a wise and wistful thing or two about friendships, including when and how to walk away and start new ones. The author also handles the parents’ separation and Marley’s learning how to cope with it and life’s inevitable changes successfully and with sensitivity.
A nicely reassuring read with a satisfying ending; a harbinger of more good novels to come from this author. (Fiction. 10-13)