Coleen Murtagh Paratore. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-545-31020-8
The summer before eighth grade is proving difficult for 12-year-old Aislinn O’Neill. When her Nana leaves town for a few months, her father’s drinking and physical and emotional abuse escalate, and Aislinn fears he’ll never buy the family’s promised dream house (“the one with the stream and the apple trees”). Her mother is pregnant with a sixth child, her uncles are serving in Vietnam, and Aislinn worries both that a boy named Mike Mancinello will never ask her out and that she’s losing her best friend. Yet Aislinn’s optimism, her Peely-Stick Shop (a blissfully isolated fort in the woods), and her “wide-awake dreams” keep her afloat and offer escape while she cares for her younger siblings. Adding to an overall uplifting atmosphere, Paratore (the Wedding Planner’s Daughter series) begins each chapter with inspirational quotes from various writers, and she creates a believable home environment for her heroine. Aislinn is sympathetic, selfless, and strong, and her intimate narration carries this story about the difference between hoping for change and making it happen. Ages 10–14. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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