by Lisa Graff
Expected Publication May 26, 2015
Review Copy lent by a friend
Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can't get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.
Ever read a story where you just wanted to reach in an give the main character a big hug? I so wanted to do this with Trent. Graff creates a "flawed" character that is so real you just can't help but root for him. He is dealing with guilt that is just too big for a 6th grader because of a freak accident for which he blames himself. His parents have divorced and dad is remarried with a baby on the way. Trent and his father struggle to get along. No, actually they don't struggle, they just do not get along. Trent is too abrasive for his father who thinks he just needs to "stop thinking" about things too much.
Trent does not have many friends. Then he meets the feisty, quirky, wonderful Fallon Little who, despite his efforts, wears him down and the two develop a friendship. However each of them has a secret that prevents them from better too close. Then Trent's quick temper gets the better of him and the choices he makes damages their friendship.
Another aspect of the story is Trent's mother and brothers (he is the middle child). Mom works hard and older brother puts a lot of pressure on himself to help take care of the family. Mom loves them all, but Trent's behavior puts her at her wit's end. There is so much more going on in this story than I am able to convey here.
This book feels real, it feels like middle school. These kids are carrying around a ton of baggage and it comes out as smart-aleky, rude, violent or is masked by humor.
I love all of Graff's books and this one is no exception. I think it would make a fabulous middle school read aloud and read alone book. Because of some language, I would recommend this one to grade 6+. Put it on your TBR list for sure!