Proof positive that an open heart can overcome hurt.

LIES I TELL MYSELF

Eleven-year-old Raymond gains what his mother lacks: self-knowledge and roots.

When Raymond is sent to spend the summer with his grandparents in Maine, he’s sure it’s punishment for the trouble he and best friend Trixy caused during his dad’s last music tour. Raymond doesn’t remember his mother Abigail’s parents, probably because Abigail abandoned Raymond, his sister, and dad years ago. His grandparents sure don’t know Raymond: They call him “backward” and encourage him to go biking, swimming—make friends! Raymond doesn’t know how to do any of those things, but he’s determined to learn. Despite his doubts and discomfort, Raymond is genuine and funny in all his interactions. The colorful cast of mostly White characters is well drawn, as is the small town of Winter’s Peak. Raymond slowly realizes he’s making connections with people of all ages, plus one chicken, and that each individual’s story is becoming intertwined with his own. He draws on them all—his experiences and theirs—when Abigail shows up for an unannounced, self-serving visit to her parents. Raymond thinks he tells himself lies, but he bravely confronts the truth about Abigail: She cannot love him the way he deserves to be loved. It’s a gut punch made bearable because Raymond has developed the core strength and friendships to help him through. This heartfelt, emotionally insightful companion to To Tell You the Truth (2021) is accessible to readers unfamiliar with the previous book.

Proof positive that an open heart can overcome hurt. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66590-088-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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