Karen English, . . FSG, $16 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-374-47122-4

English's (Francie) moving novel of memory and families takes the form of a story within a story. As the book opens, young Imani resents her mother's "haphazard" plan to visit her Auntie Dot in Los Angeles while she works out problems with Imani's father. Most of the novel then follows the reminiscences of her mother, June, during their long car ride. June chronicles her "year of troubles" in the 1950s when her parents separated, and she and her father and brother, Junior, lived with Auntie Dot. The structure at times undermines the universal dramas of fifth grader June; the voices of June's children intermittently interrupt the narrative in brief passages. But the author crafts each individual episode into a poignant vignette. Everything in L.A. seemed foreign to June, including the tropical flowers, the constant sunshine, and especially the other students in the fifth grade. Auntie Dot emerges as a strong, wise advocate who disciplines June for her pranks, but also comforts and understands her. For example, Auntie Dot teaches June that children born in her birthday month (June) have their own strawberry moon ("She might as well have dropped a diamond into my hand—giving me the name of my very own moon," says June). Though the details of the 1950s abound, readers will also identify with the timeless portrayal of fickle peers, as June's new friends Rhonda and Renee alternately accept and exclude her. Ultimately, June's tale of frailty, fear and troubles balanced by love heals and bolsters Imani's courage to wait more patiently for the next moon. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)