Review Detail

Kids Fiction 39
Comedy and Tragedy
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Izzy is very interested in comedy, perhaps because her own life is anything but humorous. Her parents are divorced, and she rarely sees her father, who lives a distance away and is busy with his new wife. Her mother is a bit stressed, and dating Izzy's dentist, Dr. Gustino! Her Uncle Henderson and young cousin Oliver are living with her after the death of her aunt by suicide. Her uncle, a musician, can barely get out of bed, and Oliver misses both of his parents and acts out frequently. When Dr. Gustino must travel to be with his mother, who has fallen, his son, Ben, ends up staying at Izzy's house as well. Ben can't be left alone because he is angry that his mother left the family to move to California, and has been spending a lot of time with his Uncle Steve. Steve is a "bad influence" who works in an auto body shop, may smoke marijuana, and has taken underage Ben to get three different tattoos! Fortunately, Oliver takes to Ben and Ben responds well to the attention, spending time with the younger boy. When Uncle Henderson goes missing and hasn't told anyone, Oliver is beside himself. Izzy's mother is worried but doesn't have time to go look for him, so Ben and Izzy decide to run away with Oliver and look for him themselves. They assemble some money and supplies, hitchhike, "borrow" a car from Uncle Steve, and run into a number of typical road trip problems. Will their guess about Henderson's location be correct, and even if they find him, will it improve Oliver's life?
Good Points
This is certainly a sad book. However, there have been a lot of sad books lately that are hopeful, engaging, and fun to read. This is one of them. Izzy has her moments of anger, but doesn't keep them to herself. Ben's father doesn't quite understand him, but he has his uncle to help him, and he's not a bad kid. Oliver needs more support than he is getting, but at least he has Izzy and his aunt. The best part is the road trip, and the details of that are what really make this book shine.

Izzy's interest in stand up will make this popular with readers of Patterson's I Funny series, Stanton's I Funny, and Meyerhoff's The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger. Usually, middle grade novels about students who want to do comedy routines center around boys, so it's good to have this book to go with Cayla Miller's graphic novel Click.

I wish the cover were a bit different, but the story is solid.
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