For the Record

Owlkids. Mar. 2022. 256p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771474375.
Gr 5-7–Family dynamics are central to the story of 12-year-old Justine and her four-year-old sister Bea as they go back and forth between the homes of their divorced parents in Montreal. At their mother’s condo, things are strict and controlled because of mom’s anxiety. At their dad’s house the rules are more relaxed, but Justine’s mom thinks her dad and older half-sister Mariella are a bad influence on the girls. Justine begins gathering evidence about her dad’s neglect so that her mom can get sole custody, thinking it will help her mother feel better, and stop her migraines and all of the yelling directed at her. Her detailed notes go from things like her dad not sticking to the strict bedtime and serving sandwiches on white bread, to crafting a lie about physical abuse to help her mother’s court case. As lawyers get involved and the case moves forward, Justine begins to question her mom’s behavior and whether she should be helping her. Characters are cued as white; Justine’s father is of French descent and there are a few words regional to Canadian dialect that might be unclear for American readers. The author thoughtfully and honestly explores the realities of divorce, anxiety, and how kids are impacted by parental behavior. Justine’s voice will grab readers as she navigates changing family situations and the importance of sharing the truth.
VERDICT Purchase for collections where family stories are popular. Children with divorced parents will see themselves reflected in Justine’s nuanced story.

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