It's starting to be a problem--not just in school, but when Clea's playing chess or just hanging out with her best friend. Other kids are starting to notice. When Clea fails one too many tests, her parents take her to be tested, and she finds out that she has ADHD, which means her attention is all over the place instead of where it needs to be.
Clea knows life can't continue the way it's been going. She's just not sure how you can fix a problem that's all in your head. But that's what she's going to have to do, to find a way to focus.
In a starred review, Booklist called Alyson Gerber's first novel, Braced, "a masterfully constructed and highly empathetic debut about a different kind of acceptance." With Focused, she explores even further how, when life gives you a challenge, the best way to face it is with an open mind, an open heart, and the open support of the people around you.
Readers who are interested in chess will appreciate the details of the tournaments in which Clea plays.
It would be nice to see more books featuring characters with different challenges that don't portray the challenges as the worst thing in the world. Middle grade readers may have all sorts of problems, but they are generally upbeat, and seeing book characters deal with their problems in a realistic but positive way is great for all readers, whether they face a similar struggle themselves or not.