cover image Sincerely


Courtney Sheinmel, Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4169-4010-4

Companion novels bound together introduce two equally sincere sixth-grade pen pals. In the more poignant story, New Yorker Sophie’s parents announce they’re divorcing, her best friend ditches her, and she worries that there will no longer be enough money for her private school tuition. She vents about some things in letters to Katie, but keeps much of her anger and hurt to herself before confiding in both parents. In California, Katie feels neglected by her mother, who dotes on Katie’s dyslexic older sister; grapples with guilt over telling a lie to prevent her best friend Jake from dating a girl; and anguishes over the “jog-a-thon” fund-raiser she organizes. Given the volume’s pen-pal premise, PW contributor Sheinmel (Positively) includes less correspondence between the girls than readers might expect; rather, their personalities emerge through their persuasive first-person narratives. In a somewhat anticlimactic ending, the two long-distance friends talk only perfunctorily in person when Sophie visits Katie. Still, this is an affecting portrayal of family and friendships in flux, and of the heroines’ burgeoning self-knowledge and confidence. Ages 8–12. (June)