After losing her best friend, a little girl tries to hold on to him by transferring her affection to the pet lizard they shared in picture-book author Hallie Durand’s first novel.
Ten-year-old, white Sussy (short for Susquehanna) has been best friends with Guy since kindergarten and loves him “more than anything.” When Guy suggests they need a pet, they purchase a leopard gecko they name Matylda, imagining the little lizard as a warrior drawn to them by love. Guy has a special connection with Matylda, who clearly responds to him more than Sussy. Everything changes after Guy is killed in a biking accident trying to save Sussy from an attacking dog. Alone, bereft, and filled with guilt, Sussy vows to find a way to love Matylda just as Guy did, since the lizard is all she has left of him. Isolated in her bedroom all summer, wearing the same clothes she wore the day Guy died, Sussy constantly relives the accident and tries to justify stealing special food and toys to earn Matylda’s affection. In her own words, Sussy poignantly describes her emotional journey from grief and despair to healing and hope as she learns how to love Matylda in her own way and move on without Guy. McGhee does not flinch from Sussy’s overwhelming grief, spinning out long sentences that keep taking her back to the awful truth.
A bright and tender novel of love, loss, and survival. (Fiction. 8-12)