cover image It All Begins with Jelly Beans

It All Begins with Jelly Beans

Nova Weetman. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9431-2

First published in Australia, this dual-voiced narrative follows two implied-white 12-year-old girls. Idiosyncratic Meg Kieran, friendless and anxious, spends time each day in the nurse’s office of Bayview East Elementary School, reading Anne of Green Gables and avoiding mean girls. Since her father’s sudden death, her mother’s depression and subsequent disability leave mean that Meg must fend for herself; she wears slippers to school and is frequently hungry, though the school nurse and her aunt ensure that she doesn’t starve. When classmate Riley Jackson, a friend of Meg’s main antagonist, has a type 1 diabetic episode, the girls share jelly beans in the nurse’s office and embark on a cautious friendship. Riley, who uses an insulin pump, chafes under the aggressively watchful eye of her psychologist mother and longs for the freedom she believes Meg relishes, while Meg yearns for a parent to look after her. While the lack of adult response to Meg’s obvious distress may feel jarring, her voice is spiky and appealing; Riley’s chapters, peppered with information about diabetic routine, provide drama around boys and friendship in this inconsistent but endearing novel. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Allison Hellegers, Stimola Literary Studio. (June) [/em]