A Kind of Spark

Crown. Oct. 2021. 192p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593374252.
Gr 5 Up–Middle schooler Addie is autistic, and this year will be one of great change. When the teacher she had hoped for gets sick, she is stuck with Ms. Murphy, a bully who doesn’t want Addie in her class just because she is different. When Addie learns that her small Scottish village used to try “suspicious” women and execute them as witches, she feels a deep and concerning connection with these outcasts. She realizes that it is up to her to ensure that this piece of history, and these women, are not forgotten. But will Addie be able to pull strength from her family and herself while facing opposition from school and the city council because of her autism? This deeply honest, at times painful story brings a much-needed look at middle school from the perspective of neurodiverse students. Addie’s twin older sisters, one of whom is also autistic, provide strong examples of healthy family relationships, and her new friend Audrey loves Addie for who she is. This debut novel from neurodivergent author McNicoll will bring readers to tears and have them cheering for Addie as she learns how much she has to offer the world. Addie and her family are cued as white.
VERDICT A first purchase in middle grade collections; a must-read for students and adults alike.

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