A kid on the cusp of middle school attempts to solve her problems using handwriting analysis.
Lately, Anna’s best friend, Lana, has been hanging out with Harlow and planning a Japanese anime marathon for the summer. Anna, no fan of either Harlow or anime, fears Lana might be replacing her. Anna’s own summer plans revolve around active, outdoor activities like minigolf. Her friend Evan has no interest in minigolf; his passion is gaming. Lana, who’s lined up a dogsitting gig, probably won’t help Anna care for her pet tortoises, Nachos and Salsa. No, Lana will be earning money to buy a phone and clothes for her “whole new look.” Money’s tight at Anna’s house since her overprotective mom lost her job. And that’s not all. Anna keeps forgetting to clean the tortoises’ habitat; the tiny crack on Nachos’ shell is growing. Hoping The Guide to Graphology, found abandoned in a classroom cupboard on the last day of fifth grade, can help her assess Lana’s intentions, Anna soon applies it to her other goals, too. She collects handwriting samples from friends and family, then supplements (or substitutes) the book’s analysis with her own pithy critiques. Few agree to pay for her services, though; meanwhile, Lana’s still friends with Harlow, and Nachos’ shell looks worse. Bossy, inventive Anna is authentic and endearing. Her dilemmas and struggles—especially when her creative solutions breed new problems—are convincing, at once familiar and fresh. Characters default to White.
A droll, deftly executed debut.(Fiction. 8-12)