A 12-year-old English girl with Down syndrome copes with drama in her tightknit family over a stormy Easter.
Darby loves her mother and her stepbrother, Olly, and her stepdad. She loves the strawberry farm where she lives. She loves music and paint by numbers. But more than anything else, she adores her 16-year-old sister, Kaydee. Darby’s jealous of her sister’s attention, so she is anything but pleased when Kaydee’s best friend, Lissa, comes for the weekend. At least this weekend will feature one of Darby’s favorite events, when she and her family find chocolate eggs in the yard. But with high winds spawning tornadoes and threatening their greenhouses, her parents are distracted and miserable. When Darby sees Kaydee and Lissa kissing and then tells Olly what she’s seen, he gets weird. Darby’s point of view as a cognitively disabled protagonist is a welcome one, though the execution is flawed; in one scene she describes dialogue she explicitly tells readers she was unable to hear. Moreover, though Darby’s a whole and interesting person, by the conclusion she’s been diminished to a tired trope of Down syndrome innocence, healing all wounds through pure insights about love. “Oh, Darby.…What would we do without you, eh?” her dad asks whenever the childlike innocence of her Down syndrome causes a shift in his perspective.
Well-meaning, but for a more genuine cognitively disabled protagonist, pair with Sharon Flake’s Pinned (2012). (Fiction. 9-12)