A Possibility of Whales
The paparazzi are stalking Nat and her movie-star father. And it’s all her ex–best friend Solly’s fault . . . sort of. But Nat doesn’t want to think about that. Nat prefers to think of the possibilities ahead of her: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, that Harry—who she just met—will be her new best friend, that she and her dad won’t have to move again again.
Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses and loves her—and is waiting for Nat to find her. Then, just as Nat is settling in to her new home, unexpected events, including a chance encounter with a whale, send her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life—and quite possibly her father’s, Harry’s, and Solly’s too—forever.
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.