January 09, 2017
Summary: I read one of Jordan Sonnenblick's novels quite some time ago (long enough ago that I'm not 100% sure which one it was, but I think it was Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie) and really remember loving the sense of humor--and also hating the font in which it was typeset. Anyway, I've been meaning to pick up another one ever since, and Falling Over Sideways showed up in my 3M Cloud Library app, so I took the opportunity to read it.
Fortunately, the font is less of an issue when you're e-reading, but aside from issues that only graphic design nerds care about, I enjoyed this story as well. Again, the author brings an unexpected and poignant sense of humor to really serious family health issues--in this case, 8th grader Claire's father suffers a sudden stroke, and she is the only one at home to witness it and call in the emergency. As if the huge changes at home weren't enough, school is also providing one aggravation after another, mainly in the form of the annoying, not-quite-but-pretty-much-almost-a-bully Ryder, who competes with her in everything, including jazz band.
Observations: The two things I really enjoyed about this book: 1. The portrayal of the parents and Claire's family in general--they are sympathetic, funny, and very real. 2. The portrayal of the kids who bug Claire at school rang true for me. These aren't necessarily out-and-out bullies, but those kids who are just really, REALLY annoying and get on your last nerve. There's a lot of exploration of WHY those types of kids behave the way they do; the reader's able to have sympathy for them, too, and learn to love them and to realize that middle school kids behave like jackasses for all kinds of reasons.
Conclusion: This was a quick read and an interesting portrayal of serious family trauma that is nevertheless not too heavy for younger middle grade readers.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library's ebook collection. You can find FALLING OVER SIDEWAYS by Jordan Sonnenblick at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!