Crossing the Pressure Line

Orange Hat. Mar. 2022. 254p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781645382836.
Gr 5-8–Clare, nearly 13 years old, struggles to cope with the recent death of her favorite person, grandpa Anthony. Clare blames herself for not reacting quickly enough when he had a heart attack in her presence, a burden she’s been carrying around for months. Grandpa’s dying wish was that Clare, her mother, and her grandmother spend an entire summer together at the family’s cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin—a thinly veiled attempt to bring the three women closer together. As they shed the stresses of life in suburban Chicago and begin to relax and enjoy themselves (“crossing the pressure line,” as Grandpa used to say), the three bond by finding common ground and unearthing sides of themselves not usually seen. Bird deposits readers right in the heart of the Northwoods, convincingly showing how Clare and her family can easily unwind in the picturesque setting, populated with down-to-earth people who enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Clare is an extremely precocious narrator, and her inner-voice—as well as her dialogue—doesn’t always sound realistic for a young teenager. But that is easy for readers to overcome, as Clare’s optimism and enthusiasm for the people and world around her are infectious. All main characters are cued as white; secondary characters are Asian, African American, and Latina.
VERDICT Recommended, especially for younger readers of middle-grade realistic fiction and fans of classic books like Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie.

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