When Claire's family is turned upside down, her friends—and enemies—become a surprising source of support.
Eighth grade is tough enough for Claire without new problems, including a prominent zit appearing on the first day of school and watching her friends at dance school move into advanced levels while she stays behind. But these problems fade in significance when her novelist father keels over during breakfast one morning. Her father's stroke means even more changes: the house is different, the looks of pity she gets are unfamiliar, and her father has changed. But he's still there—isn't he? With humor, grace, and an ear for middle school nuance, Sonnenblick navigates the tricky waters of eighth grade and manages to convey the heartbreak of a major tragedy alongside the more mundane, but no less horrifying, problems, such as getting your period while wearing white marching-band pants. Her dad's stroke serves as both a main source of anguish and a backdrop against which Claire explores all the relationships in her life, including the ones she has with her brother, her two best dance friends, her best school friend, and others she never knew were friends (including Latina Regina, who calls Claire “Starbuck” because, she says, “all white girls love Starbucks”).
Authentic, funny, dramatic, fantastic. (Fiction. 10-14)