STICKS & STONES by Abby Cooper
Kirkus Star

STICKS & STONES

Age Range: 9 - 13
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Due to a rare condition called cognadjivisibilitis, anything people say about 11-year-old Elyse appears on her arms and legs—part temporary tattoo, part eczema.

Good words soothe, while bad ones itch "more than a thousand mosquito bites." Her friend Jeg has always protected her from mean comments, but the pressure of a new clique draws Jeg away, leaving Elyse to flounder and fend for herself—as if starting middle school weren't hard enough already. Soon, rashes like PATHETIC and WORTHLESS break out: words Elyse thinks about herself. When mysterious notes challenge her to try out to lead the sixth-grade class trip, she reasons that winning will net her enough positive comments to cure the itch. But as she awkwardly makes new friends, chronicling her progress with (very careful) self-deprecating humor in short chapters and notes to her future self, she realizes, "You couldn't just read them; you had to feel them, too." The unsteady emotions of middle school are palpable in Cooper's debut, from trying on identities to believing moments that pass like a blush will last forever; even teachers learn to grow. CAV is both a gentle dig at anti-bullying platitudes—words can and do hurt—and a reminder that words can heal.

Elyse's struggles toward self-confidence will resonate with fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) and all readers learning how to be comfortable in their own skins. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-374-30287-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenWONDER by R.J.  Palacio
by R. J. Palacio
ChildrenBRACED by Alyson Gerber
by Alyson Gerber
ChildrenTHE BUBBLE WRAP BOY by Phil Earle
by Phil Earle
ChildrenTHE VIEW FROM SATURDAY by E.L. Konigsburg
by E.L. Konigsburg
ChildrenSAVVY by Ingrid Law
by Ingrid Law