September 11, 2018
Noah Savino has been stuck in a wheelchair for months. He hates the way people treat him like he’s helpless now. He’s sick of going to physical therapy, where he isn’t making any progress. He’s tired of not having control over his own body. And he misses playing baseball—but not as much as he misses his dad, who died in the car accident that paralyzed Noah.
Noah is scared he’ll never feel like his old self again. He doesn’t want people to think of him as different for the rest of his life. With the help of family and friends, he’ll have to throw off the mask he’s been hiding behind and face the fears that have kept him on the sidelines if he ever wants to move forward.
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If you want readers to gain empathy about people who are facing challenges they are not, it's not very effective to have a slow paced, lyrical novel that discusses and analyzes these matters. A lot of the readers are going to claim the book is boring and give up! If you throw in dog farts, practical jokes, some friend fighting, and a sport, readers will actually pay attention to the book and get information about what it would be like to be in a wheelchair, how you might feel if your father passed away, how to be friends with someone who is quirky, how to deal with a parent dating, and how fathers sometimes fall out with their children over issues like same sex marriage. That's all in this book, but in a way that is fun to read. I also adored the details about life in this very specific neighborhood. Noah's personality and coping mechanisms were brilliantly described. He doesn't wring his hands, but does admit he doesn't work hard enough. The reasons his friends quit talking to him are very realistic. The fact that sometimes happy things can make a grieving person inexplicably sad is a very true thing that I have not seen represented in middle grade literature. Very well done, Mr. John!
Can't wait to hand to students! Great cover-- wish we would see more like this, especially if girls are the main character. It's one thing to say boys should read books with girl protagonists-- it's another to get a 13 year old boy to check out an aggressively pink book with a girl on the cover. Librarians need a tiny bit of help in overthrowing cultural preconditioning.
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