Abby, Tried and True – Donna Gephart

  Abby, Tried and True – Donna Gephart; Simon & Schuster; (9781534440890), 2020

Format: paperback ARC (looks like it comes out 3/9/21 now?)

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? When Abby Braverman’s best (and only) friend Cat moves to Israel, she’s devastated. Then something even worse happens — her older brother, with whom she is very close — is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Suddenly her close-knit Jewish family is thrown into a scary new world of cancer treatments and her funny, lovable brother’s personality becomes muted. Their two moms are stressed and Abby worries that she contributes nothing positive to the family. Meanwhile, Abby makes friends (and maybe more) with the new, quiet boy next door, Conrad.

Donna Gephart has written a gorgeous book about sibling love and family in Abby, Tried and True. Abby and her brother Paul have a close bond; they play Monopoly together, and he happily includes her in excursions with his teenage friends. Paul’s cancer is explored extensively — the way his peers react, the difficulty of his chemotherapy treatments, and his complicated emotions. Abby is a bit of a loner; besides Cat and Conrad, she doesn’t have any friends and she struggles to even talk to her peers in school. The truth is, Abby is quiet and sensitive, both of which she sees as character flaws at the start of the book, but discovers they are in fact strengths by the end. I love how the family’s Jewish traditions weave through the book flawlessly and also the way Abby’s two moms support each other (and how they are both chefs!).  All in all, this is a fabulous middle grade book about a young girl growing up and discovering more about who she is and wants to be.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Students who like books about sibling relationships.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No; I read it in one afternoon.

Who should buy this book? Must purchase for all elementary and middle school libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Realistic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? YES– it needs more reviews out in the world and it’s just lovely.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: October 17, 2020

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