To call this affecting debut a tearjerker is an understatement.
Sure, Abby North’s dad has terminal cancer, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to die. Besides, the young teen from Michigan can always consult her Magic 8 Ball, which she sees as her direct line from God, and it can't be wrong. But Abby’s dad does pass away before her freshman year in this heartbreaking story that’s divided into the summer before and the two years after his death. The quiet yet steadfast third-person narration becomes intense as Abby refuses to eat, can’t find the tears that everyone else wipes away and longs for a sign from her father to know he’s still a part of her fractured life. While the focus is on Abby, the book also shows how death can affect family members in different ways, from her older brother’s dabbles with alcohol to her mother’s guilt for wanting to date again. The grieving process and the newly awakened emotions that come with being an early teen continue to ring true when Abby pushes everyone away, especially her childhood best friend, Spence, who may want to be more than friends after all these years.
Will Abby’s story of loss and love gain popularity? Signs point to yes. (Fiction. 12 & up)