cover image The Science of Being Angry

The Science of Being Angry

Nicole Melleby. Algonquin, $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-643750-37-8

Impulsive Joey often feels uncontrollably angry, a sensation whose intensity confuses her and causes her to react “with her fists,” straining relationships. Her family is kicked out of their apartment after Joey punches a security guard, and the 12-year-old feels isolated at school after pushing her best friend and crush, Layla. Carried by their Mama after IVF, fraternal triplet Joey and her identical brothers are not genetically related to their Mom; when her science class explores nature versus nurture during a genetics unit, Joey becomes anxious that Mom could possibly “fall out of love” with her, and curious about a possible genetic link to her rage. As part of a group assignment, Joey secretly researches her mothers’ sperm donor to find out if her anger might have biological roots. Though some details are passed over (Joey appears to have sensory sensitivities, but a possible relationship to her emotional dysregulation is never investigated), Melleby (How to Become a Planet) persuasively, sensitively depicts Joey’s internal turmoil and the effects of the overwhelming emotions on her relationships, in an affecting story of a girl struggling to untangle her place in her family. All characters are portrayed as white. Ages 9–12. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (May)