Thirteen-year-old Katie is certain she has the grown-ups in her life figured out.
Organizing her findings as a guide to understanding grown-ups, self-proclaimed “parent trainer” Katie decodes their behaviors within the pages of her diary. With a keen eye, Katie identifies the various “modes” in which grown-ups operate—ranging from “Embarrassing Mode” to “Annoyed Mode”—including the modes’ potential causes and possible solutions. Interspersed among the observations and advice are Katie’s diary entries. Smith reveals the myriad emotions that Katie experiences as she perches on the edge of young adulthood: feeling bereft as friends Hannah and Loops begin dating boys, while spurning the attention of a boy she truly likes. Other diary entries delve into the aftermath of Katie’s beloved father’s death. Katie is appalled that her mother is dating a new, younger man and determines to discourage him. As she reflects on her father’s final days and his words of hope and encouragement, Katie must decide whether she can accept the impending changes in her life. While Katie is often exasperated by her eccentric but loving extended family, Smith conveys a powerful message about family connections.
Alternately funny and heartbreakingly poignant—a memorable tale. (Fiction. 10-13)