Winnie Friedman is navigating her sophomore year of high school, evolving friendships, and family worries.
After a stand-up comedy fail at her bat mitzvah, 15-year-old Winnie swore off public performances. However, when she is asked by Evan Miller, a popular junior, to join the school’s Improv Troupe, she decides to take the risk. Her best friends, Muslim, hijabi identical twins Leili and Asmaa, are very supportive. However, just when Winnie believes she really will do comedy again, she finds out her father may have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A girlfriend for Asmaa and friendship troubles with Leili add to the changes and turmoil. Winnie just wants to make people laugh and find humor in the world around her—but can she, with her father’s health problems, complications with Evan, and the falling out with Leili? Rubin’s (Denton Little's Still Not Dead, 2017, etc.) writing realistically brings to life teens struggling to find their paths and be happy, lending the story a feeling of authenticity. Small, telling details of the girls’ interactions in their interfaith friendship and pop-culture references add to this reality. This is a touching look into one girl’s high school experience as she seeks the funny moments even in the midst of tragedy and challenging relationships. Winnie is white and Jewish, Leili and Asmaa are Iranian American, and there is diversity in secondary characters.
Charming and affecting. (Fiction. 13-18)