Two friends learn to respect each other’s big ideas.
Twelve-year-old Alba’s club foot, aka Cleo, has always been “directionally challenged.” Cleo has often worn casts or braces; like the hummingbirds that fascinate her best friend, Levi, Alba has never run. But when the cast from Cleo’s final operation comes off, Alba plans to run in her school’s cross-country race. Levi, an “above average thinker” and Stephen Hawking fan, is distracted by what he believes is a wormhole in the school librarian’s office—and he doesn’t believe Alba can run. As the race approaches and Alba also notices the librarian’s odd disappearances, Alba and Levi must put aside their squabbles. The wormhole plot seems slightly juvenile for 12-year-olds, and characterization is somewhat uneven. Levi, who is white and has asthma, talks of little else but wormholes. Stubborn, self-conscious Alba, also white, is more sympathetic, particularly in her belief that running will earn her a place in “magical Normal Land.” Her goals occur in small steps, easing her into the difference between her dream and the reality without diminishing her accomplishments. Alba’s relationship with her single mother is touching, and the budding relationship between her mother and her doctor is awkward but optimistic. Alba’s narration is dotted with hummingbird facts, which Kadarusman—who had a club foot herself—explains in a glossary.
A quick, sweet read. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-11)