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Kids Fiction 314
contemporary middle grade that deals with a lot of issues
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THE POSSIBILITY OF WHALES is a middle grade contemporary story that deals with a lot. Natalia Rose (Nat) is almost thirteen years old. She is semi-famous for the fact that her father is XAN GALLAGHER, a wrestler/actor kind of like the Rock, who has a larger than life personality. Nat has never known who her mother is but in a way, she likes the mystery rather than knowing more about the woman who left her behind.

Nat and her father move about every year, when the paparazzi become too much, and this year, they moved after AN INCIDENT which is described later and involves Nat’s best friend at the time, Solly. At the new school, Nat finds herself drawn to Harry, a trans-boy who is not accepted by his parents and who thinks life would be easier if he could be friends with the other boys. There is some push-pull with their relationship as a result.

On the cusp of puberty, Nat is not sure how she feels about getting breasts or the possibility of a period, and the lack of a mother has brought even more complicated feelings to her developing body. The only mother-type figure she has is Bird, a woman whose name she doesn’t know that she dialed and pretended was her mother once and now whom she calls to talk about things to.

What I loved: I really liked the focus on complicated feelings about a developing body/puberty. This is something preteens can often relate to, and an important topic to discuss. On top of that, there are some great gems about anger/forgiveness. The strongest part of the book was Harry, and his perspectives are too few and far between- I would have liked to experience more from his point-of-view and I think his experiences coming out as transgender were really important for young readers to learn about.

What left me wanting more: The book felt a little scattered, like it was trying to tackle too many things at once, and I would have liked a little more focus on key topics. I also felt like the ending was a little abrupt and would have liked a little more to bring it all together.

Final verdict: Overall, this is an engaging YA contemporary which handles puberty with some comedy as well as some other key topics- transgender, trouble with being famous, handling a missing parent, etc. I would recommend to older middle grade readers who will empathize with Nat and the changes she is experiencing.
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