Being a voice for the voiceless in her small Alabama town has some consequences that Atty Peale had not foreseen.
While accompanying her stepmom on a freelance writing gig, 12-year-old Atticus Tutwiler Peale and her younger stepbrother, Martinez, fall in love with an injured dog named Easy at the local animal shelter. When a man claiming to be Easy’s owner arrives, accusing the dog of biting him and demanding the dog’s destruction, Atty intercedes, first with the woman who runs the shelter and then in court, using the legal smarts she’s gained from listening to her lawyer father to present an original brief on Easy’s behalf. Easy gets a stay, but Atty and Martinez have to work at the shelter all summer. The media attention the incident attracts from as far away as England earns Atty an anonymous cyberbully. Defending an alligator while simultaneously trying to (secretly) prove her father’s latest client innocent further complicates the start of middle school. In his debut novel, Lockette deftly juggles issues of race (Atty and her father are white; Atty’s stepmother and Martinez are black), parental loss, bullying, animal rights, and much more in this touching and at times laugh-out-loud tale of a lawyer-to-be. Atty’s voice is authentic, and her trials (both in court and in school) will resonate with readers.
A double-must-read for all animal lovers.(Fiction. 8-14)