At the start of her eighth-grade year, Briana’s father suddenly dies due to a rare heart problem, and now all kinds of responsibilities rest on her shoulders.
After her father’s funeral at the synagogue, Briana’s mother spends her days crying, sleeping, and wandering the house in her pajamas and blue slippers. Briana is now almost the sole caregiver to her 5-year-old brother, Aaron, who is on the autism spectrum. Abruptly, she is no longer just handling regular coming-of-age teenage angst, such as friends, crushes, and school activities, but helping fill in the gaps after her father’s death. There are a lot of different topics covered in this book, but they never feel like too much, and they all fit into the scope of the plot. Bass tackles some heavy issues—having a sibling with a disability, losing a parent suddenly and at a young age, and coping with a parent’s depression—but she manages to do it with grace and empathy. Readers will see Briana’s understanding of her brother shift as she starts to really see him as opposed to what she feels he has cost her.
This book is full of heartache and rare smiles, but that is because it is achingly real. (Fiction. 8-13)