A quiet, poetry-writing, nature-loving tween learns to cope with changes and challenges during a difficult year.
Twelve-year-old Abby Braverman does not feel brave. Her best friend, Cat, is moving away to Israel, and her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Abby and Paul have their two moms, Mom Rachel and Mama Dee, for support, and Abby has her turtle, Fudge, to talk to, but with Cat gone, she doesn’t have anyone else to turn to. She suffers from social anxiety at school and finds it difficult to make new friends; however, when a cute boy moves into Cat’s old house next door, Abby finds herself making tentative steps toward a new friendship with him. The whole family pulls together to support Paul through surgery and chemotherapy, which is hard on all of them. With each new challenge Abby surmounts, she learns that being anxious and sensitive doesn’t mean that she can’t also be other things: a supportive sister, a good friend, and a brave person too. This quiet, steady story especially shines when destigmatizing Abby’s social anxiety and Paul’s particular form of cancer. The Bravermans are Jewish, and, as the school year goes on, they observe holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, and Passover. This representation of a close-knit modern Jewish family is authentic and warm.
A touching story about finding inner strength during a challenging time.(author's note) (Fiction. 10-13)