Is it possible to start afresh when you’re thoroughly weighted down? A “timeless and entirely of-the-moment” (Publishers Weekly) novel from the author of The Secret Language of Girls.
Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies—and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who’s as different as they come.
Anders is homeschooled, and while he’s worried that Abby’s former friends are out to get her, he’s even more worried about his dad, a war veteran home from Iraq who is dangerously disillusioned with life. But if his dad can finish his poem about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, if he can recapture the belief that there can be innocence in the world, maybe he will be okay. As Abby dives into the unexpected role as research assistant, she just as unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, there is plenty there for herself, as well.
In a powerful story about learning to be proud of one's true self and rising above bullies, sixth-grader Abby is sick of the "medium girls," who weigh the right amount and say all the right things, and of her parents, who are on her case about dieting and fitting in. She is even more tired of her own efforts to stay in the clique's good graces. One day Abby walks away from their taunts, a small step that takes her life in a new direction. A fox bites her, and she follows a dog across a creek where she meets eight-year-old Anders and his father, who is recovering from serving in Iraq. They invite her to help with a research project, which leads to new friends at school and unexpected happiness. Occasional chapters follow the fox Abby meets, whose story is slowly revealed as it intersects with Abby's. Dowell (Ten Miles Past Normal) creates a sympathetic and honest heroine with a flair for drama, humor, and creativity, and she resists a tidy ending in a novel that feels both timeless and entirely of-the-moment. Ages 8 12.