Thanks to @kidlitexchange (#partner) and @scholastic for the advance reading copy for review. All opinions are my own.
I wish I had had this book when I was growing up with ADD! Alyson Gerber’s new book FOCUSED (I am a huge fan of her recent MG novel, BRACED) tells the story of chess prodigy Clea Adams and the challenges resulting from undiagnosed ADHD that are starting to compromise all areas of her life—from social to academic to familial to extra-curricular. Just as things get dire, help arrives in the form of the lovely Dr. Gold. Who really listens to Clea and also helps her to understand that ADHD and intelligence can co-exist, and that attention issues do not mean she is lazy or a bad person. Next, with the help of the adults in her life (spoiler alert) Clea learns to manage her ADHD and more importantly, to advocate for herself and her needs. This team approach gets her on track and poised for great success.
I love Gerber’s realistic depictions of family life and issues—for me, she falls in the category of the brave and talented Naomi Klein, Paula Danziger, and Judy Blume—stalwarts of my 80s childhood. Her compassion for her characters is always at the forefront of her books, so the readers feel that way, too. And nothing ever gets too dark or hopeless, even when the characters reach their own rock bottom. This is MGLit, people!
FOCUSED is a well-paced read with helpful advice, age-appropriate drama, and an upbeat ending. It should be in the hands of any middle schooler with ADHD.