cover image The Formerly Great Alexander Family

The Formerly Great Alexander Family

Susan Shreve. HarperCollins Publishers, $13 (91pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13551-5

At the ""family meeting"" held at home on Liam Alexander's last day of fourth grade, the Alexander parents tell Liam and his three sisters that they are getting divorced. Devastated, Liam is convinced that everyone will think him a ""wimp"" because he ""can't even make his parents stay married."" Holding his anger and confusion inside, the boy has a dismal summer: he quits his beloved baseball team, cuts himself off from his best friend, refuses to visit his father's new apartment and even announces that he is not returning to school in the fall. Eventually, Liam emerges from his self-imposed exile to face the permanency of his parents' situation and carry on with his own life. With its believable characters and all-too-realistic premise, Shreve's (The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates; The Gift of the Girl Who Couldn't Hear) honest and disarming novel makes it easy for readers to feel Liam's piercing pain; at one point, when his mother tells him that his withdrawal is breaking her heart, the disconsolate boy responds: ""What about my heart? It's broken in two."" Readers in a similar predicament will find in Liam a kindred spirit. Ages 8-up. (June)