BOOKS
Up for Air
288p. Abrams/Amulet. May 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419733666.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5–7—Annabelle is the fastest on her middle school summer swim team, where she knows her place in the world. That is not always the case in other parts of her life. She feels mediocre at private school, and cannot quite connect with her wealthy classmates. Despite her hours of studying and extra tutoring, Annabelle cannot focus during her tests (even with her extra time), and worries that she is a disappointment to her mother and stepfather. But this summer will be wonderful—she plans to swim and spend time with her two best friends, Mia and Jeremy. However, middle school friendships have a habit of changing before everyone is ready: the easy competition between her and Mia takes on a less friendly nature, and Jeremy is going away to nerd camp for a whole month. Still, there are things for Annabelle to look forward to: being invited to swim with the high school team, making older friends, and Conner, an older boy who actually seems interested in her. As Annabelle tries to impress them, she begins to alienate Jeremy and Mia and makes a series of poor decisions. Eventually, Annabelle learns that her parents consider her more amazing than she knew, and that boys' attention is not always genuine. At the surface, this story may be typical, but it does an excellent job in creating relatable problems and characters. Annabelle's fears of being on the outside of friendships and school circles are likely the fears of many young readers.
VERDICT A sweet and entertaining novel that offers deeper themes to ponder.

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