Middle schooler Ella Cohen navigates life with divorced parents.
Two years ago, Ella’s mother married Krishnan, who lets Ella show his champion dog, Elvis. Ella is close to her stepfather and is happy to share this hobby with him, but she feels pangs of guilt when she thinks of her own father, David, who cannot deign to be in the same room as his ex-wife’s new husband. Ella wishes she could share this hobby—and her debut at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia—with her entire family. Conjecturing that if her father had a partner he would be happy and confident around Krishnan and, therefore, would attend the dog show, Ella and her friends set up a fake online-dating profile for her father, and all sorts of hijinks ensue. By the end of this delightful and satisfying novel, Ella gets her comeuppance—she is caught in a barrage of lies and must apologize to her mother, her father, Krishnan, and Beth (a woman whom her father inadvertently falls for). Ultimately, Ella learns she can’t control all possible outcomes to create the best of all possible worlds. Cherry presents a realistic portrait of a multicultural, blended family—Ella, her mother, and her father are white and Jewish, and Krishnan is South Asian—and doesn’t blunt the challenges of divorce.
Realistic and sympathetic, with an appealing protagonist and an interesting hobby for texture. (Fiction. 8-12)