The Light Jar
240p. Scholastic. Jan. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338216301.
Gr 4–6—A witty and courageous book. Nate likes puzzles, riddles, and is a connoisseur of "freaky facts." He finds most human relationships ineffable, especially his tenuous connection to his parents. Over the course of one rainy winter night in an abandoned cottage in the countryside, Nate works to negotiate his mother's limits and their shared pain. Failing to protect him from her live-in boyfriend, Gary, Nate's mother attempts to craft a family out of the wreckage of his father's abandonment and Gary's random acts of emotional sadism which include removing all the light fixtures so that their house is perpetually dark and taking her cell phone so she can't contact anyone for help. Meanwhile, Nate finds solace in Sam, an invisible friend; Kitty, a mysterious neighbor; a roving chicken; and the handmade light jar his mother makes for him (a glass container filled with a string of small lights). Carefully and beautifully written, this is a book that will appeal to readers who enjoyed Ann M. Martin's Rain Reign and David Almond's Skellig.
VERDICT A strongly recommended purchase for robust middle grade collections.

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