Crashing In Love

Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536211535.
Gr 4 Up–Inspirational quotes paper the walls of Peyton’s bedroom in the coastal Maine house she lives in with her aspiring journalist mother and two older sisters. Always striving to be a better person, Peyton is positive that with the right attitude, anything is possible. With a little more effort, maybe her parents wouldn’t have gotten divorced. Twelve-year-old Peyton is also positive that this is the summer she’ll get her first boyfriend; in fact, she has created a list of all the qualities her future boyfriend should embody. Riding her bike one morning she finds a boy in the road, victim of a hit-and-run accident. So sure is Peyton that this comatose boy is the boy of her dreams, she devotes her summer to sitting with him in the ICU and trying to solve the mystery of who was driving the car responsible for the accident. Things don’t go exactly as planned. Peyton’s summer of romance turns out to be one of growth and understanding—understanding what led to her parent’s divorce as well as why her best friend has become estranged. Although Peyton does find a potential boyfriend and solve the mystery of who was driving, these accomplishments come with the realization that life is messy and problems can’t be solved with inspirational quotes. All of the primary characters are cued as white. While the focus of the story is Peyton’s relationship with family members and friends, secondary issues of class differences are subtly addressed.
VERDICT A heartwarming and remarkably poignant story of a girl navigating the sometimes painful process of growing up. A solid choice for middle grade readers.

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