cover image A Perfect Mistake

A Perfect Mistake

Melanie Conklin. Little, Brown, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-66858-3

Adeptly examining potential culpability around a mysterious tragedy’s aftermath, Conklin’s compassionate (Every Missing Piece) contemporary whodunit centers a kid managing his recent ADHD diagnosis. At the start of sixth grade in a New Jersey suburb, Max is struggling on several fronts: he’s learning how to navigate his “inattentive type” ADHD; his close “Three Broskateers” bond with friends Joey and Will is disintegrating; and he finds being a nearly-six-foot-tall 11-year-old frustrating when adults suddenly expect him to act grown. The weekend prior to this book’s start, he and Max pressure Will to sneak out at night and visit a graffitied railway roundhouse hangout deep in the woods. The next morning, Max doesn’t remember the details of the night, but he recalls enough to feel extreme guilt, which is further heightened when he learns that Will is in a medically induced coma. Together with classmate and aspiring journalist Samantha, the narrator resolves to discover what happened—including his own part in the accident. Lightly touching on social complexities that range from interpersonal assumptions to the uncertainty and pain of changing relationships, Conklin’s emotionally grounded mystery imbues Max’s quest for truth with a perceptive portrait of a kid learning to understand his ADHD. All characters read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (July)