Pity Party

Kathleen Lane. Little, Brown, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-41736-5
Introducing a cast of tween characters experiencing insecurities and growing pains, this welcoming, often ironic collection of short stories reflects on the pity party that is middle school. In “Odd,” Julian’s aversion to odd numbers results in trouble with stairs. Cora’s wish that mean people would break out in spots has unexpected results in “Ugly Duck.” And in “Gio X,” a boy receives a mysterious package that might have the power to “upgrade” his friendless existence. The book contains stories that start and stop, only to be continued later; ads from “our sponsor”; a personality quiz; a “Choose Your Own Catastrophe” story; and a literal invitation to the pity party (“Dear missing parts, broken hearts/ picked on, passed up/ misunderstood/ sitting alone”). This eclectic volume good-naturedly explores common tween experiences, though the mixing of stories about garden-variety social anxieties and diagnosable disorders creates a false equivalence, and “Odd” may prove triggering for readers with OCD. In stories that largely follow the same formula—conflict is introduced, a Twilight Zone–like twist changes characters’ perspectives—Lane (The Best Worst Thing) offers a captivating distraction from self-pity, and creative variations and varied genre inclusions will keep readers’ attention. Ages 8–12. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/25/2020
Release date: 01/19/2021
Genre: Children's
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