cover image Falling Over Sideways

Falling Over Sideways

Jordan Sonnenblick. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-86324-7

After the trauma of witnessing her father have a stroke, 13-year-old Claire Goldsmith and her family struggle with their new reality. Claire must simultaneously navigate dance-class drama, getting braces (which still manages to feel like the worst day of her life even after her father’s affliction), and boys, including former friends and her frustratingly perfect older brother. Told from Claire’s perspective, Sonnenblick’s story delivers an achingly vivid portrayal of her wide range of emotions as her father returns home still recovering, suffering from aphasia and having trouble with simple tasks like eating with a fork. Claire is a bluntly honest narrator, never holding back even when anger turns to depression and her father starts to waste away (“If I were being a hundred percent honest, I couldn’t really say I was thankful he was alive in this condition”). But Sonnenblick (After Ever After) incorporates a message of hope, too: Claire’s ordeal gives her new appreciation for the power of music and a more empathic view of those around her. It’s a powerful and profound look at a family coping with unexpected change. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)