cover image Dancing in the Storm

Dancing in the Storm

Shannon Hitchcock and Amie Darnell Specht. Rocky Pond, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-61946-9

Seventh grader Kate, who lives in Baton Rouge, has her hands full competing in gymnastics, navigating friend politics, and nursing a crush on her older brother’s best friend. Things get complicated further when shoulder pain after a gymnastics meet leads to a diagnosis of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a rare genetic disorder that causes muscle and ligaments to become bone. Learning that stress, illness, or falls can cause flare-ups prompts Kate’s parents to pull her from gymnastics. As she struggles adapting to new life restrictions and the loss of her passion, Kate fears she will be perceived as different and worries about a future with decreasing mobility. While Kate’s family is supportive—they replace their trampoline with an FOP-safe pool and consistently validate her frustrations—it’s Amie, Kate’s 35-year-old mentor with FOP, who helps her process her feelings. In this empathetic novel of loss, resilience, and joy, Hitchcock (One True Way) and debut author Specht deftly balance Kate’s diagnosis with middle school drama, creating a deeply relatable telling in which community support and an openness to change lead to Kate’s hopeful visions of a brighter future. Kate’s dealings with FOP are candidly informed by Specht, who has FOP, according to an author’s note. Kate and Amie present as white. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)