Middle school bitchiness is elevated to high art in this poignant tale of a girl dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide attempt.
Anna is so “been there, done that” it defies her mere 13 years on Earth. After a lifetime of dealing with her flaky mom’s emotional highs and lows and her distant dad’s remarriage to the beautiful Marnie, Anna has learned how to shut people out and shut down her own emotions. However, the loss of her one-time best friend, Danielle, to the popular set proves to be one body blow too many. Friend’s sixth novel (My Life in Black and White, 2012; Lush, 2010) and first for middle-grade readers reverberates with honest eighth-grade emotion. Anna’s first-person delivery is wry, sad, heartbreaking, in-your-face, and raw. She captures the utterly helpless feeling of a child trying to deal with the very grown-up problem of a parent’s mental illness, with a father who doesn’t communicate well and a life that isn’t going how it should. Friend balances heartache with humor, creating in Anna a memorable, funny, and genuine girl and serving up middle school angst with a teen edge. While her cast isn’t particularly diverse, they are memorable; as so many protagonists have done before, Anna learns that sitting with the weirdos is a whole lot more fun than toeing the mean-girl line.
An upper-middle-grade winner. (Fiction. 12-14)