Every Single Second

illus. by Diana Sudyka. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062366283.
Gr 4–6—Nella has grown up in an insular Little Italy neighborhood of a large city. Her father is the caretaker of a cemetery across the street from her house. Nella has recently traded in her shy, lifelong best friend Angela for a cooler, shinier model, and she's sure her four younger brothers are complete barbarians and that her great-grandmother is impossible to please. All that is about to change. With her Catholic parochial school slated for closure, Nella will be forced into the wider community. A secret revealed about her father's past alters her feelings for him, and then her old friend Angela's brother, Anthony, accidentally shoots and kills an African American man seeking help after a late-night car crash. Nella has always adored Anthony, and the way he is portrayed by the news media enrages her. She is eventually forced to reexamine much of what she believes about her family, friends, neighbors, and God. Fluctuating in time between Nella's earliest school years and her seventh-grade present, this work raises questions about fate, faith, loyalty, and justice. The ghosts of the past—of racial tensions from decades before and consequences of mistakes made years ago—reverberate throughout the novel. Adult and child characters alike are shown as complex and conflicted. Overriding all is the notion that what occurs in a single second can change the course of events. Readers may find the constant swiveling in time to be disorienting, and frequent interruptions for observations by a statue in the cemetery serve little purpose. The focus is squarely on the protagonist and her struggle to understand how race and history play into the tragic events.
VERDICT Springstubb admirably takes on a sensitive and difficult contemporary American issue. Sure to spark discussion in classrooms and book clubs.

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