A father and daughter learn to take care of each other.
It’s always just been Fig and her dad. He’s a little difficult sometimes, but that doesn’t mean her art teacher, Miss Williams, needed to call social services on him. Now she has three months to get him on track before the social workers come back to check on them. They love each other, but they don’t totally understand each other—Fig’s dad is a formerly successful pianist and composer with unmanaged bipolar disorder—so Fig has decided to do a project on Vincent van Gogh for art class. Maybe if she studies an artist, she can understand her father’s mind. But before long it’s their new neighbor, Mark, who understands her father, and Fig feels left on her own. She must figure out what to do before social services returns; how to manage her male best friend’s crush on her and her crush on someone else—a girl; and how to react when her father and Mark fall in love. The parallels drawn between van Gogh and his brother and Fig and her father are meaningful and come from Fig, so they don’t feel contrived. Melleby doesn’t shy away from how terrifying it is to watch someone in a dangerously manic state, but the narrative never tips into melodrama.
A thoughtful portrayal of mental illness with queer content that avoids coming-out clichés. (Fiction. 9-12)