Almost Flying

Dial. Jun. 2021. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593112939.
Gr 5 Up–A delightful middle grade debut exploring first crushes and family relationships. Dalia is upset to discover that her father has had a girlfriend for the past six months and is now getting married. Dalia always thought she and her father were close, so this comes as a shock. But the worst part isn’t Vanessa, her dad’s fiancée; it’s Vanessa’s college-aged daughter, Alexa. Alexa seems angry and uninterested in getting to know Dalia, but their parents want Alexa to cancel her week-long summer vacation to five amusement parks so she can bond with Dalia. Dalia, who is secretly obsessed with roller coasters (even though she has never been on one), has a better idea: She can come along. Everyone agrees that this could work, and Dalia is even lucky enough to bring her new friend, Rani. The trip gets off to a rocky start, but Dalia isn’t too bothered, because she really enjoys spending time with Rani. When Dalia starts to think her feelings for Rani might be more than friendly, she finds some unexpected guidance from Alexa and her friend Dhruv. Dalia’s inner thoughts feel authentic, and most other characters are well developed. The relationships between characters deepen at a natural pace, and tweens will enjoy trying to figure out if Rani likes Dalia, too. Characters’ skin tones are not described; Dalia and her father are Jewish, and Rani is Muslim.
VERDICT A super sweet LGBTQ romance for middle grade readers. Highly recommended.

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