I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC (NetGalley) of this middle grade realistic fiction novel by Jo Knowles in exchange for this review. I really enjoyed this book and am going to be anxious to see how the students in my class like it. This book tells the story of a seventh grade boy, Noah, who is dealing with all of the stuff of middle school: friends, budding romance, teachers, homework, parents, etc. On top of all of that, his older sister, Emma, is at the center of a family crisis that has everyone (including the dog) struggling to keep it together.
I liked that the main character of this novel is a boy. I think it helps to draw in the male students in this age group, because they will be able to relate to the feelings and turmoil that Noah experiences. The author does a great job of creating authentic, middle school characters that kids will recognize and appreciate.
I also think that it was a good choice to focus on the problem of eating disorders from the perspective of an adolescent boy and a younger sibling. Looking at a family crisis in this way reminds me a lot of The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner , because we can see the impact that Emma's condition has on the rest of the family, especially Noah.
I think that my students will like that this difficult, heavy topic is dealt with in the context of all of the other things that stress kids out. The middle school drama is presented with the necessary humor to keep kids engaged. I'm pretty sure that this will be a popular middle grade novel this year.
Five Questions (Plus One!) with Jo Knowles
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 2nd 2016 by Candlewick Press