"This is a strong story about two extremely important topics; stuttering and bullying. Written from the perspective of an eight-grade student, the story shines a light on the perils of navigating the social uncertainties of that last year of middle school. The complexities of pre-teen social anxieties as well as the pressures of living up to parental expectations are at the core of this emotionally driven story. I thought the author handled the topics well, and with gentle support for any young person going through these difficult years.
However, after reading the book, I felt that it would be better read by parents, as an insightful window into their young person's life, rather than a story that students should read themselves. There is a lot of time spent on negative actions of teens, and few pages to dissuade students from these behaviors. It's not until near the end of the book that the consequences really come home to roost for the teens, and to my mind, it all passes too quickly, with little conversation about the upheaval one's behavior can cause one's own future, and the family dynamic. For me, the poor choices made by the main character were too quickly forgotten, and the happily ever after ending" too easily achieved.
It is, though, a wonderful opportunity for parents, counselors, and teachers to gain a perhaps long-overlooked perspective on how students often feel persecuted and unheard. And for that message, alone, I think that this is a story that should be shared.
Watch the author reading from this book during our Autumn Book Festival!
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