Regal Bks. Sept. 2019. 198p. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9781947548596.
Gr 5-7–In 1970s California, Argentinean Jewish middle schooler Gabriel, or Grape, struggles with school and fitting in. Grape blames his problems on the “spiders” in his brain, a result of falling backward from his high chair as a baby and cracking his skull open. Most recently, he punched Miss Roof in the arm and was suspended for two weeks. Principal Clarkson wants to send him to Riverwash, a school for “problem” kids, but gives him one more chance. Grape must spend an hour a day writing about his history of trouble, from getting stuck in a storm drain to fighting with his best friend Lou. The story, written in journal entries from Grape’s perspective, chronicles everything that led up to his most recent incident, including challenges at musical theater camp and a fascination with streaking. Grape’s actions and issues with impulse control might prove alienating to some readers, but relatable for others with similar experiences.
VERDICT Quirky kids will relate to Grape’s struggles to fit in both in school and with friends.

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