cover image Ode to a Nobody

Ode to a Nobody

Caroline Brooks DuBois. Holiday House, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-823451-56-2

A class poetry assignment helps an aimless 13-year-old grapple with the aftermath of a devastating tornado in this graceful and perceptive novel in verse. Quinn Nash is content to drift through eighth grade, invisibly living in the shadow of her “perfect” college-age brother, gaming and learning skating tricks with lifelong best friend Jack and charismatic new friend Jade, and mediating her parents’ arguments, but her life is upended when a tornado sweeps through her neighborhood, destroying the family’s house: “Nothing that was mine/ yesterday is mine today.” Deeply affected by the devastation, Quinn surveys the Tennessee town’s damage and, while helping cleanup efforts, discovers pleasure and value in both volunteer work and in writing a poem each day. To her uneasiness, Jack and Jade, personally untouched by the disaster, revel in the lawless freedom of preoccupied adults and canceled school, engaging in vandalism that creates a gulf between the formerly inseparable friends. In three free-verse sections, attentive word choice from Brooks DuBois (The Places We Sleep) exhibits the healing power of writing, charting Quinn’s evolution from passive and insecure observer to conscientious aspiring poet. Characters default to white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Nov.)