cover image Not Nothing

Not Nothing

Gayle Forman. Aladdin, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-665943-27-7

Twelve-year-old, white-cued Alex’s mother has been missing for almost a year. Now sleeping on a lumpy couch in the home of his indifferent aunt and uncle, Alex harbors a simmering anger that soon boils over into an act of violence. A sympathetic social worker provides Alex the opportunity to avoid juvenile detention by spending the summer working at Shady Glen Retirement Home; once there, he immediately picks a fight with another volunteer. But with limited options—and nothing better to do—he returns to Shady Glen and meets 107-year-old Josey Kravitz, a Polish Holocaust survivor who “stopped talking and waited to die” following the death of his lost love. Drawn to Alex, Josey begins telling him the story of his doomed romance with fiercely intelligent Olka, a seamstress at his family’s clothing store who teaches young Josey how to sew, a skill that would save his life. Written in second person from Josey’s perspective, this tale of intergenerational friendship forged through a shared understanding of loss by Forman (Frankie and Bug) is told with spellbinding grace and wrought with exquisite structuring that quietly highlights the heartrending parallels between Josey’s WWII remembrances and Alex’s current struggles. Ages 10–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Aug.)