Wren’s school year is off to a rocky start after a summer turned upside down by her parents’ divorce.
Nine-year-old Wren, who is white, as are her parents and most of her friends, doesn’t know quite how to explain her summerlong silence to her best friend, Amber. The gap between them seems to widen when it appears that newcomer Marianna has supplanted Wren for Amber. A transplant to this small Wisconsin town from Seattle, Marianna has an enviable self-assurance and panache, along with an off-putting swagger. Meanwhile Wren is busy trying to hide her situation and make sense of her new schedule, with weekdays at Mom’s and weekends at Dad’s small cabin across the lake. She uses her phone’s dictionary both to define and frame her questions about divorce and family changes. Bowe’s first-person voice for Wren is quietly contemplative, frustrated, and confused by the disruption in her family but also determined to sort out how things will work. It’s a realistic young voice nicely free from snarky irony, and it’s focused on the arts of questioning and paying attention to the answers. Marianna has secrets of her own, and the growing bond between the girls is restorative for each of them as well as for Wren’s friendship with Amber.
Appealing as a story of school and friendship as well as family. (Fiction. 8-11)