Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse

Susan Vaught. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-2501-9
In this heartfelt middle grade mystery, an autistic girl becomes an amateur detective after money is stolen from her English teacher father’s desk at school and he is blamed for the theft. With the aid of her friend, new kid Springer Regal, and her faithful Pomeranian, Sam-Sam, Jesse Broadview sets out to clear her father by finding the true culprit, along the way repeatedly encountering “Jerkface and his pet cockroaches,” a trio of bullies. While the investigation plays out over the course of the week preceding the narrative, a storyline set in the present focuses on the immediate aftermath of a tornado that hit their small Kentucky town, where Jesse and Sam-Sam prove useful in aiding their neighbors. Along the way, Jesse narrates her experience “on the spectrum,” which manifests for her as touch sensitivity (“my new clothes don’t have to be perfect. Just not itchy”), an occupation with numbers, and the occasional meltdown. Vaught (Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood’s Revenge) brings training as a neuropsychologist to this sensitively told tale, and she offers a nuanced, normalizing portrayal of Jesse’s autism spectrum disorder alongside her other qualities. Between the charming protagonist, the engaging mystery, and a compelling emotional arc, the result is wholly satisfying. Ages 8–12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May)
Reviewed on : 04/04/2019
Release date: 05/14/2019
Genre: Children's
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