Emma's struggles are very realistic and dear to the heart of middle grade readers, who like problem novels that make them feel like their own life is easier. Lord has a good feel for just the right level of problem, and Emma solves her difficulties in constructive ways.
Lord uses her own personal background to good effect in this latest book. Her son is on the autism spectrum, she homeschooled her children, and the family fostered rabbits. She consulted with her daughter about the difficulties she faced when entering public school, so this is very effective.