cover image Honestly Elliott

Honestly Elliott

Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0625-2

After being rebuffed by his friends for interrupting and becoming distracted, aspiring chef Elliott, who is white and has ADHD, partners with perfectionistic schoolmate Maribel, cued as Latinx, who has celiac disease, to establish a gluten-free pie business for a final school project. Upping the stakes is Elliott’s hope of earning enough money selling pies during the year-end festival to reimburse his father for a window broken during The Incident—something Elliott refuses to discuss even with his therapist—which he’d otherwise have to fund from the savings he’s painstakingly set aside to attend summer cooking camp. The sixth graders’ initially rocky partnership gives way to camaraderie and trust as they develop their recipe for a delicious, gluten-friendly product that proves their critics wrong. Interjecting footnotes that mimic the way Elliott’s brain processes information, McDunn (These Unlucky Stars) offers an affirming and nuanced depiction of empathetic and creative Elliott’s experience of ADHD, including the way his executive dysfunction can result in disorganization, impulsivity, resistance to change, and low self-worth. Elliott’s relationship with his father, from whom he craves acceptance despite his dad’s failure to acknowledge Elliott’s specific challenges, is particularly inspiring as the two work toward openness and understanding. Ages 8–11. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Mar.)