cover image When Friendship Followed Me Home

When Friendship Followed Me Home

Paul Griffin. Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3816-4

After growing up in foster care, 12-year-old Ben Coffin is just happy to have a home and a loving mother; living in Coney Island is icing on the cake. Ben adores the beach, the boardwalk, and the local librarian, Mrs. Lorentz. When he meets her daughter, Halley, there is an instant connection, fueled in part by Flip, a dog Ben rescues from the street. Soon Ben and Halley are best friends, collaborating on a fantasy story and hanging out all the time, even as she undergoes chemotherapy. But Ben has learned that good things don’t tend to last, and when his mother dies, and Halley’s treatments begin to fail, he has to dig deep to find faith in people, the world, and himself. As in his young adult books, Griffin (Adrift) handles hard topics with penetrating insight and honesty, while balancing painful moments (and there are many) with levity, such as Flip’s need to lick everyone on the mouth. Ben wrestles with big questions in relatable, realistic ways, and his huge heart and optimism will win over even the most hardened skeptics. Ages 10–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (June)