Paper Heart

­Putnam. May 2021. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984815347.
Gr 4 Up–Patrick’s sequel to Tornado Brain, an intimate look into the world of a neurodivergent teen, shifts the focus to Frankie’s sister Tess, who is struggling with anxiety after the death of her best friend. Attending art camp in Wyoming just a few months after the tragic event, Tess battles “Mean Me,” the voice that tells her that she cannot do enough or be enough, and focuses her attention on her hands; she constantly tears and bites at her nails and cuticles. She can no longer draw, a skill that used to give her comfort. Tess finds herself shuffled between various groups of people trying to help. Her cousins and aunt and uncle delicately try to help her process her grief, and the townie art club kids welcome her with ease and understanding; both entities wind up giving her back a piece of herself that she thought was lost. Patrick provides a unique look into the world of a grief-stricken kid trying to stay above water. She intertwines mystery, realistic fiction, romance, and social-emotional issues with aplomb, creating a lovely and therapeutic story. Readers may recognize and sympathize feelings of standing in someone’s shadow and feeling lost, unable to ask for help. Tess is cued as white.
VERDICT A suggested purchase for upper elementary and middle school libraries. Educators may want to use the book for group reads centered on coping with grief, trauma, and anxiety. Patrick weaves an authentic tale of a young girl with a sensitive heart who endures life’s hardships.

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