Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse, by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken.
Adrian Simcox tells everyone who will listen about his beautiful horse, but classmate Chloe knows that he's lying and she sets out to logically prove it, only to realize that she's hurt Adrian in the process and that he may have a horse after all...
This book reminds me of the old classic The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, which depicts a similar dynamic-- a poor, imaginative girl trying to fit in with her disapproving, mean-girl classmates. I read that one over and over as a kid, feeling the sting each time when the girls learn the truth and are rightfully ashamed.
Something nice about the ending of this one: the shame is softened by the possibility of a friendship.
Friendship is at the heart of Kat Yea's The Way to Bea; specifically, it's the loss of friendship and all of the confusion and heartbreak that go along with that familiar rite of middle school passage. Seventh grader Beatrix copes by writing haikus, listening to her playlists, and reluctantly (at first) joining the school newspaper. There she meets a quirky boy obsessed with mazes.
Lots going on in this one about the awkwardness of growing up and growing apart, some hints at parental neglect (Bea's parents are preoccupied with work and expecting a new baby), the power of words and books, and a fun (and somewhat scary) side plot about getting lost in a maze.
(Don't worry, it all works out)
It does not all work out in Courtney Summers' new novel Sadie.
This book pretty much killed me. I read it in two nights, filled with growing feelings of rage and grief. The book begins with a podcast about a dead girl and her missing sister, Sadie. What follows is the story of Sadie's quest to find her sister's killer, alternating with updating segments of the podcast.
I have to admit that I was skeptical at first that this structure would work, fearing that the podcast would interrupt the flow of the narrative.
I was wrong. Sadie's story builds with such a ferocity, I found that the podcast gave me a chance to catch my breath.
And you need to catch your breath with this one. You know how there's this thing lately in the news where suddenly, as a society, we are arguing over whether or not to believe women?
Well, guess what, I do believe women, and I am enraged that we are still even having this discussion. If you are one of those skeptical people who wonders what all the fuss is about, read Sadie.
And then get back to me.