Lydia Rice is an unhappy and reluctant seventh grader at Miss Pocket’s New England boarding school. Her parents’ divorce, mom’s move back to Minnesota, and dad’s marriage to April have necessitated the arrangement. Written as a diary in the notebook that her beloved grandmother gave her before her death, Lydia’s story unfolds as a year of self-discovery and personal growth. When the school handyman, who is also a would-be novelist, sets her the task of uncovering the names of the students in an old-time photograph, Lydia’s inquiries lead to a better knowledge of her own family and grandmother, one of the girls in the picture. Time spent with dad-and-April, the way in which Lydia always refers to them, also helps her come to terms with the divorce.
While set in 1965, there is no clear picture of the times through music or movies. A sit-in up in a tree and an easy-to-decipher message code lend some excitement and the details about boarding school will be of interest to some readers. While overall a pleasant read, Gordon ultimately adds little to the canon of the coming-of-age story. A supplemental purchase. (Fiction. 9-12)