Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd)
Set in Wisconsin, with wonderfully nuanced characters—from the bossy new girl, who acts big but has a secret of her own, to the sporty girl who acts little and shy but who becomes an unexpected friend—this is a book about much more than divorce.
Finding One's Own Path
'Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd)' by Julie Bowe follows nine-year-old Wren as she navigates life after her parents' divorce. Having gone away for the summer without telling any of her friends why, she is hesitant to share that her parents have decided to get a divorce. Adding insult to injury is the fact that her supposed best friend, Amber, has made a new best friend, Marianna, and doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with Wren.
Even though Wren is keeping a secret from Amber, her worry about what will happen when they find out the truth trumps any common sense she may have. The divorce is clearly not her fault, but she feels diminished by it, and as though her friends will think less of her, so she keeps it a secret. It doesn't help that nine-year-olds can be extremely fickle, so Amber's sudden fascination in all things Marianna wears on Wren's sensibilities. Wren's mom makes life even harder when she requests that Wren and Marianna walk to the library together (where Wren's mom is the head librarian) every day after school so Wren isn't alone, due to the fact that both of Wren's parents will now be working after school and unable to be with her at home.
At first, Marianna comes across as a spoiled, bratty diva. It is definitely possible for nine-year-olds to encapsulate these qualities; however, Marianna's way of speaking sometimes seemed too old for her age. Despite Wren's mistrust and dislike of Marianna from the get-go due to Amber and Wren's falling out, Wren learns that Marianna has some secrets of her own, and maybe - just maybe - they are more alike than Wren could have thought possible.
In this novel by Julie Bowe, friendships are tested, secrets are kept and revealed, parents are annoying, and life is frustrating. Yet, through it all, the world starts to make more and more sense, and each character's struggle to find their own path results in finding ways to connect with others as well. This is a fast, sweet, and enlightening story that anyone who loves middle grade novels will truly enjoy.