cover image Five Things About Ava Andrews

Five Things About Ava Andrews

Margaret Dilloway. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-280349-8

Ava Andrews, 11, is more nervous than usual at the beginning of sixth grade: not only is middle school intimidating, but her best friend, Zelia, has just moved across the country. Zelia always stood up for Ava when the clinically anxious girl—who has a genetic heart condition and attendant pacemaker—encountered social difficulties that upped her anxiety and her heart rate. Though Ava doesn’t like to stand in front of groups, and dreads attending social events organized by her father’s Cotillion business, she discovers a supportive community when she joins an improv group predicated on a foundation of celebrating mistakes and working with what one is given. The group is soon shocked to discover that the theater in which they rehearse is in danger of being developed. They decide to fight the onset of gentrification in their San Diego neighborhood, and with the help of her improv skills, Ava finds her voice. Alongside a sensitive portrayal of Ava’s invisible disabilities, well-wrought subplots, such as problems with an unkind classmate and the growing distance between two once-close friends, support the journey of Dilloway’s (Summer of a Thousand Pies) thoughtful protagonist from timid observer to well-liked social activist. Ages 8–12. Agent: Patricia Nelson, Marsall Lyon Literary. [em](June) [/em]