Amelia Peabody’s older sister, Clara, died in a boating accident three years ago, a tragedy that still has Amelia in the clutches of deep grief.
On the first day of eighth grade, Amelia finds a letter Clara wrote to herself on her own first day of sixth grade. It’s not any letter to her future self, however—it’s a list of all the things Clara will accomplish by the time she reaches eighth grade: be nicer to Mom, make the softball team, ask Billy to a dance, throw a fabulous birthday party on the lake, and plan the most unforgettable eighth-grade prank their small town has ever seen. Sadly, Clara only completed one task, because she died during that party on the lake. Maybe finishing the tasks for Clara will alleviate Amelia’s pain. Amelia’s unrelenting heartache over the loss of her sister is never over-the-top; she’s a steady, reliable narrator whose life is a realistic balance of humor and sadness. Amelia’s “What would Beyoncé do?” approach to life is admirable, but repeated references to the pop star may eventually date the book; however, the themes of loss and recovery are timeless. All characters seem to be white by default.
A book for anyone who’s lost someone close, and to instill a sense of empathy in those who haven’t. (Fiction. 8-13)