April’s much-anticipated eighth-grade year rapidly devolves into a debacle.
After a turbulent summer (Can You Say Catastrophe, 2013), 13-year-old April is excited for the new school year. She has been dating Billy for a month, and she has reconciled with her BFF, Brynn. However, new challenges arrive with the new year. April’s relationship with Brynn is jeopardized when an opportunity to try out for the high school dance team results in April being selected to join the team while Brynn is not. Familiar characters return as Friedman focuses on April’s relationship quandaries: her problems with Brynn, her mixed feelings regarding her relationship with Billy, and her perplexing interactions with the enigmatic boy next door, Matt. The journal format provides insight into April’s emotional life as she expresses her inner turmoil with poignant honesty. Friedman sensitively explores the emotional upheavals that sometimes accompany the middle school years. The revelation of April’s clandestine kiss with Matt wreaks havoc in her life. April’s lament, “Can a girl make a mistake without her life falling apart?” highlights the intense pressures of middle school social life. Relying on the sage counsel of both her grandmother and father, April navigates her way.
Readers will empathize as April displays spunk and resilience in addressing her mistakes and remaining true to herself. (Fiction. 11-14)