The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James

384p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316515535.
RedReviewStarGr 3–6—A contemporary middle grade story about starting over and redefining yourself. Sunshine "Sunny" St. James has had a heart transplant, and she's ready to start her life over again. She has a plan that involves finding a new best friend and finally kissing a boy. Then Sunny's mother shows up in town and tries to reconnect with her, and Sunny isn't sure what to think. Also, she is starting to feel more than best-friend feelings toward her new best friend. This is a sweet, gentle story of a 12-year-old girl who is just starting to decide where she fits in the world. Sunny's distinct character and voice shine through as she tries to reinvent herself. Readers will be able to relate to Sunny's struggles in finding a new best friend and her feelings regarding her former best friend. Even without a fast-moving plot, this story is still compelling, as readers follow Sunny in her decisions to spend time with her mother, who abandoned her when she was four years old, as well as her quest to find a boy to kiss. Sunny ultimately discovers that she is interested in both boys and girls. This slice-of-life story is perfect for fans of Lisa Bigelow's Drum Roll, Please or Joanne Rocklin's Love, Penelope.
VERDICT A heartwarming and engaging tale that treats Sunny's emerging sexual identity with care, authenticity, and age appropriateness. A first purchase for public and school libraries.

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