Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Izzy is an endearing character with a distinct voice. She is a fourth grader with fourth-grade concerns, including being in a class with students she doesn’t know very well, and having to wear a shirt from the school’s lost and found on picture day. She is glad to make friends with the new girl in her class, Quinn, but is confused about her old friends Sara and Fiona, who are now in a different class and seem to be better friends with each other than with her. Izzy’s parents are divorced and she is sensitive to the tension between them, and also about her teenage brother James, who often seems distant. Because this is a novel-in-verse, there are many things left unsaid. This adds to the impact of the words that are there, but may confuse readers who expect a more linear plot. Music and themes from Marlo Thomas’ classic 1970s album “Free to Be You and Me” run through the story like a thread, which may send readers out to find a copy so that they can hear the music for themselves. I particularly liked the way everything came together at the climax of this novel. Izzy’s relationships with her various family members also feel very authentic.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The plot felt a bit fragmented at first, although the story became more cohesive as it progressed. There are a couple of chapters where readers might not be sure who Izzy is talking to or about.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read Alikes? This would be a good book for readers moving beyond early chapter books but not quite ready for more complicated middle-grade novels. Also recommend other novels-in-verse such as Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli and Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries may want to consider this novel.
Where would you shelve it? Middle-grade fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: March 27, 2017