Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face

Paul Acampora. Roaring Brook, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-59643-548-3
Acampora follows his debut novel, Defining Dulcie, with another moving story about a parent and child reinventing themselves to cope with loss. After 14-year-old Zachary's mother walks out without saying goodbye, he and his police officer father leave Colorado for a fresh start. The small town of Falls, Conn., is populated with suitably offbeat residents—a Polish couple who keep their taxidermied German shepherd at their ice cream store, a know-it-all librarian named Fines, and, most important, next-door neighbor Rachel and her older brother, Teddy, a lovable trumpet virtuoso who has an unspecified disorder (autism?) that forces Rachel into the protector role. Zachary's father assesses people by what he adjudges their superpower to be, and he thinks Rachel's is rage, fueled by anger at the universe (her mother died giving birth to her). Over the summer, Zachary grows to understand both Rachel's real superpower—her "ferocious" love of Teddy—and the depth of the wound his own mother left him with. Acampora's light touch with weighty issues makes for a highly appealing read—readers will want to spend more time with these well-crafted and complex characters. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-1-250-01669-0
Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-4299-7680-0
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