This is a very funny and touching book about a very serious subject.
Fourteen-year-old Audrey Turner is trying to recover from some sort of vicious bullying (never specified in detail) by other girls at school. She withdrew from school, and still wears sunglasses even around the house, which in any event, she rarely leaves except to see her therapist, Dr. Sarah (a wonderfully-written character). Audrey’s family is quirky and chaotic, but supportive. Still, it seems like an uphill road until a friend of her older brother Frank’s, Linus, tentatively and sensitively reaches out to Audrey. He is able to help her in a way no one else has been able to do, and the whole family finally figures out how to achieve some peace and closure.
Discussion: There is a great deal of humor and absurdity in this wonderful story told in a mix of formats, reminding me a bit of Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. The parents have their own frustrations, and end up acting out in ways that are well-meaning, if misguided. When Frank announces that members of the Turner family “do not understand the concept of love beyond their own self-serving version” and stalks out of the room, Audrey’s mom says to her dad, “That boy needs a hobby. . . We should never have let him give up the cello.”
Audrey sums up what many kids today think:
“The thing about Mum is, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just, no adults do. They’re totally ignorant, but they’re in control. It’s nuts.”
I had not previously read any of the books by the very popular author, but I do think that has to change!
Evaluation: This is a delightful and heartwarming story, portraying a difficult coming-of-age theme with humor and compassion, and offering an uplifting look at the powerful effects of loving concern and understanding.
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, 2015