STICK WITH ME by Jennifer Blecher
(Pub date 11/3/20)
When fitting in means finding the right friend...
Jen Blecher's done it again--written a lovely middle grade novel that's both minutely observed and wonderfully encompassing in terms of its larger themes.
Izzy is a talented artist suffering growing pains within her social group and enduring the stiletto-sharp pierce of exclusion as her so called-friends reject her. At the same time, her parents are going through a financial crisis and will need to rent out their home to make ends meet, while the family moves into their garage apartment. This move will separate Izzy from where she makes art (and from her extensive sticker collection). Wren is an ambitious ice skating star whose adorable little sister, Hannah, has profound health issues that will require the family to spend a few weeks near the hospital where she receives treatment. This move will keep Wren from the rink at a crucial time in her skating season. Airbnb and drama camp bring Wren and Izzy together, when Wren's family rents Izzy's house for the duration of Hannah's operation and recovery and the girls are thrust into a vacation program at Izzy's school. Both Wren and Izzy are out of sorts and lonely, but they find in each other both fun and comfort, and a friendship that celebrates who they are instead of who their peers think they should be. With a well-paced plot, a very satisfying ending, and relatable themes and issues (bullying, financial difficulties, friends who are "different," the quasi-professionalizing of kids' sports), STICK WITH ME delivers both comfort and entertainment. A cozy winter read for middle graders.