After Ava inherits a parrot from a barely remembered great-uncle, her efforts to maintain an idealized image seem to crumble.
Ava has successfully used social media to depict herself as leading a perfect life, hiding that her father has recently abandoned their family, that her older brother, Gregg, is an aggravating tease, and that her mother is both depressed and angry. Still, by posting attractive selfies and a running monologue of her supposed beautiful life, Ava has managed to acquire several hundred followers. The parrot, Mervin, is a challenge—noisy, destructive, and demanding lots of attention. As soon as Gregg posts a photo of the parrot at his worst, Ava’s two BFFs, Kim and Kim, promptly (and seemingly inexplicably) dump her, apparently put off by Mervin’s messiness. Only later, as Ava begins to bond with another classmate, does it become clear that the Kims have become more interested in hunky Gregg than in Ava (making their rejection of her even less understandable). Characters (default white) are predictable and only superficially depicted, and the ups and downs of Ava’s social media and school images are equally lacking in nuance. Only the lively parrot and Ava’s growing understanding of and affection for him rise above average.
Best for those interested in pet birds. (Fiction. 9-12)