From the beloved author of the MR. TERUPT and PERFECT SCORE series comes this stand-alone middle-grade novel about a girl who is dealing with the tragic loss of her best friend, and the dog that helps her forge new friendships and find happiness once again.
Twelve-year-old Thea and her family are moving to a new town for a fresh start--her parents' bright idea. To Thea, it feels like running away. She lost her best friend, Charlie, in a tragic accident, and in the painful aftermath, she has gone mute. Her two younger sisters, however, are excited about moving, especially after their dad promises that the family will get a rescue puppy. This doesn't change Thea's mind, though, until Jack-Jack bounds into her life and makes it clear that he is no ordinary dog. As she bonds with Jack-Jack, and as the dog's mischievous ways steer her toward someone she can confide in, Thea opens up to the possibility of new friendships and forgiveness, and comes to believe in what cannot be fully explained.
After sixth-grader Thea Ettinger witnesses the death of her friend, Charlie, who is struck by a car while the two are fishing, she withdraws into herself, hardly speaking and experiencing guilt- and trauma-fueled nightmares even after she, her parents, and younger sister move away to get a "fresh start." When the family decides to adopt a dog, Thea doubts that the addition will help, but a loving rescue with a lazy eye gets her attention at the animal shelter and changes her mind about how companionship can heal. Buyea (the Mr. Terupt series) writes this emotional story from Thea's perspective, surrounding her with an authentically drawn, cued-white cast, including Simon, a younger student who grows from annoyance to treasured friend; compassionate teacher Ms. Stacy; and new friend Rory, who uses sign language to reach out to Thea. Wrapping up tidily with a comforting payoff, this novel of pet adoption and community emanates warmth with a satisfying brevity and unembellished storytelling. Ages 9 12.