cover image SNAP


Alison McGhee, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (129pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2002-8

During the summer between sixth and seventh grade, Eddie (short for Edwina) learns that her best friend, Sally, is losing her grandmother. Spirited Willie, who raised Sally, has a blood disease, but when Eddie reaches out to Sally, she withdraws. In McGhee's (Countdown to Kindergarten ) short, touching novel, Eddie, the narrator, uses compelling details to capture her bond with Sally: they loftily describe their hometown as "in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains," camp in what they dub the Cabin (really an old chicken coop) and play Blind ("One of us closes her eyes—squinches them shut so that no light comes in—and the other takes her arm and leads her around"). Eddie likes to make lists, and, in an effort to break bad habits, she snaps the variously colored rubber bands she wears around her arm (e.g., she snaps the yellow band when she tips back in her chair). She carefully observes the special relationship between Sally and her grandmother and notes why Sally may be shutting her out (Sally tells Eddie, "You and your lists!... Like you think you can actually control anything that's going to happen to you"). In contrast, Sally's mother, who almost never speaks, and whom Eddie's mom describes as not knowing "how to protect herself" from the sadness in the world, doesn't seem fully formed. Overall, though, readers will be drawn into Eddie's world and root for her as she stands by Sally, and stands up to her own fears. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)