Life in the Balance

Feiwel & Friends. Feb. 2021. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250619730.
Gr 3-7–A young white girl struggles to deal with her mother’s alcohol addiction. Only weeks before the All-Stars Softball Team tryouts, Veronica’s parents announce that her mom will be going to rehab for two months. Not only will her mom be unable to help her prepare, but their financial situation means Veronica might not even be able to play. When her teammate Libby reaches out, the two new friends hatch a plan to enter a local talent show, hoping that the first place prize money will allow her to pay for the All-Star team. This marvelous middle grade novel provides an honest depiction of alcoholism and addiction. Petro-Roy’s description of Veronica’s anxiety will be relatable to many readers, as will her hope upon finding people with whom she can share her concerns. The author deftly describes Veronica’s mounting responsibility and frustration as a result of her mother’s addiction. As the child of an addict, she feels compelled to take on more and more responsibility to help her mother recover. Eventually, she expresses these feelings to her family in a gut-wrenching, powerful display of her growth. Veronica’s internal dialogue is authentic, and though adults and friends offer compassion and wisdom, Veronica ultimately chooses her own path toward happiness.
VERDICT A first purchase. Hand this to readers who don’t mind a few tears on their way to a happy ending.

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