Dead Wednesday

Aug. 2021. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593306673.
Gr 3-6–Worm Tarnauer prefers to go unnoticed. He doesn’t want to stand out, and he’s happy to let his best friend Eddie take the spotlight. In a somewhat morbid exercise designed to encourage students to consider their own mortality, the teachers at Worm’s school assign each eighth grader the name of a teenager who died in the past year. The students don black shirts and are ignored all day by teachers and fellow students. Typically, this leads the eighth graders to do any number of things they wouldn’t normally be able to get away with—but when Worm is assigned Becca Finch (17, car crash), he isn’t prepared for what happens next. Worm lets Becca into his head and begins seeing her everywhere. He finds himself talking to her and questioning his identity and how he exists in the world. This is a well-written book by a well-known author. The concept of Dead Wednesday is somewhat disturbing and consumes a large portion of the beginning action. The plot really takes off once Worm begins interacting with Becca; she’s smart and quick and challenges his preconceived notions about belonging, causing him to think and step outside his comfort zone.
VERDICT With a macabre premise, this is a solid read about finding one’s voice, standing up for oneself, and inner confidence. Recommended for larger collections or where Spinelli is already popular.

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