Finding Perfect

304p. ebook available. Farrar. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374303129.
Gr 4–7—Swartz's debut novel gives readers a glimpse into the increasingly troubling thoughts and feelings of a girl with an anxiety disorder. Molly Nathans is striving for perfection in her 12-year-old life. She is an excellent slam poet and plans to prove it to her school by winning the regional competition. She's also hoping to prove it to her mother, who has left the family for a job in Toronto. As if her absent mother isn't enough of a worry, Molly becomes aware that her compulsion to count by fours and line up her figurines with a ruler is getting out of hand. With middle school friendships and family relationships at its heart, this novel offers an empathetic guide to coping with a mental health issue. As in Sophie Kinsella's YA book Finding Audrey, readers are privy to the inner life of a young person coping with a condition that has her believing she's "crazy." Swartz uses the counting obsession effectively to illustrate the escalation of Molly's problems. Molly's conversations with her friends contrast with her own interior dialogues to help readers understand her minute-by-minute struggle. Though the ending is predictable, there are enough emotional highs and lows throughout to keep readers hoping for Molly's perseverance and triumph.
VERDICT Swartz adds to the growing list of fiction titles that raise awareness of differences and promote acceptance; a strong purchase for most middle grade and middle school collections.

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