Can spending the night in Ikea cure grief?
For best friends Frankie (white) and Walter (mixed-race, black/white), poring over the Ikea catalog and visiting the Ikea furniture store represents shiny-new, TV-show perfection. When they make plans to spend the night at Ikea (influenced by From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), they’re not sure exactly why, except that they are looking for something “nicer”: different from their loving but careworn, imperfect homes and lives. Frankie has an additional motive: she’s trying to bring back some of Walter’s shine and enthusiasm after a six-month decline in his “essential Walterness.” Frankie narrates with a mix of spunky honesty, compassion, and self-interest appropriate to a preteen. Her concern for Walter is endearing, and in time it is revealed that Walter’s father died recently. Their night at Ikea is desperate fun, full of mishaps, with unexpected emotional highs and lows. The turning point is when Walter admits that although he is processing his grief for his father, he is being crushed by the burden of comforting his mother. With the help of an understanding security guard who finds them and has a frank discussion with their parents, changes are made that allow the friends to realize that they have everything they need to move forward.
Readers will revel in Frankie and Walter’s cathartic romp and learn much about grief, family, and friendship along the way. (Fiction. 10-12)