cover image Take Care of My Girl

Take Care of My Girl

Patricia Hermes. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-316-35913-9

Brady is embarrassed over her fifth-grade class project dealing with the family unit, especially when a schoolmate proposes a parents' night to celebrate the various projects' conclusion. For Brady's mother is dead, her father is missing, and her grandpa Jake is having a bad time with emphysema. The girl badly wants a normal-appearing family so she won't be self-conscious in school. For Jake, the project offers the chance to talk about what will happen to Brady when he dies. Brady and Jake track down the girl's Vietnam-veteran father, but Brady realizes that, weird or not, Jake is her family and she loves him. Mixing such powerful issues as death with trivial classroom antics, this agreeable but unremarkable novel presents as its message that old chestnut about being to thine own self true. Sassy Brady and her conservative friend Danielle provide comedy amidst Brady's various anxieties, but the disparate elements here never take flight. Ages 9-up. (Nov.)