cover image The Goodbye Time

The Goodbye Time

Celeste Conway, . . Delacorte, $14.99 (98pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73555-1

Conway (The Melting Season ) shoehorns a whole lot of story into this middle-grade drama, and barely pulls it off. About to graduate from fifth grade, best friends Katy and Anna, the narrator, still play imaginary games. But the real world is intruding. As Anna dreads losing her 15-year-old genius brother to Harvard in the fall, Katy's profoundly developmentally disabled brother suddenly needs to be institutionalized. (On top of this inequity, Anna's parents are happily married; Katy's, bitterly divorced.) An additional story line involves a classmate whose father has recently died; he and Anna like each other. Given so many developments, it's not surprising that Anna's emotional responses seem a little blunted, even when Katy inexplicably turns on her. But the writing is simple and clear, and gently delivers the message that growing up is inextricably linked with change. As Anna concludes, “I just miss us, Katy and Anna, those girls who played and are gone now.” Ages 8–12. (Dec.)