Wonder meets Three Times Lucky in a story of empowerment as a young woman decides to help solve the mystery of multiple suspicious deaths in her group home.
Sally Miyake can't read, but she learns lots of things. Like bricks are made of clay and Vitamin D comes from the sun. Sally is happy working in the kitchen at Sunnyside Plaza, the community center she lives in with other adults with developmental disabilities. For Sally and her friends, Sunnyside is the only home they've ever known.
Everything changes the day a resident unexpectedly dies. After a series of tragic events, detectives Esther Rivas and Lon Bridges begin asking questions. Are the incidents accidents? Or is something more disturbing happening?
The suspicious deaths spur the residents into taking the investigation into their own hands. But are people willing to listen?
Sunnyside Plaza is a human story of empowerment, empathy, hope, and generosity that shines a light on this very special world.
NPR broadcaster and author Simon makes his children's book debut with this novel inspired by his experience, as a young man, working at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. Ingenuous narrator Sally Miyake ("Sal Pal"), a resident of the Sunnyside Plaza community center, easily draws readers into her story, confiding, "I can't read, but I see, I hear, and I notice things." Fixated on numbers, she communicates her age as "8 times 2 plus 3," and believes that her long-absent mother "will be back when she can take care of me." The teen and her fellow residents instinctively support one another and provide mutual solace when two tenants die suddenly and another suffers a mysterious fall. Two detectives investigating the deaths bring untold joy into Sal Pal's life when they take her under their wing, inviting her to her first-ever baseball game and a family seder, and soliciting her help solving the deaths, given her keen perspicacity. In heartbreaking moments, Simon also lays bare the profound humiliation that Sal Pal and her friends feel when marginalized, as when a woman at the park deems "those people... crazy." A resoundingly poignant novel with an acutely intuitive and empathic protagonist. Ages 8 up.