Grape, Again!

Fitzroy. Jul. 2022. 173p. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9781646032471.
Gr 5 Up–It’s 1976 and 12-year-old Argentinean Jewish Gabriel, who prefers to be called Grape, is back in this sequel and starting junior high at a regular school instead of the previously threatened Riverwash, a school for troubled kids. He’s even enrolled in an advanced English class in addition to studying Hebrew for his bar mitzvah, learning to pop wheelies on his Evel Knievel bike with teens in the park, and going sailing with his parents all while managing the “spiders” in his head with the help of his psychiatrist. The epistolary story, told to his best friend Lou who has moved to live with his dad in New York, chronicles everything from reading Don Quixote for English class to the adventures he gets into with the cigarette-smoking teens, Rusty and Heidi, who live with foster parents. Minor characters appear to be white. The dialogue from Grape’s parents is occasionally peppered with Spanish. While many of the words can be deciphered through context, there are some occasions where readers who aren’t fluent might have difficulty.
VERDICT This coming-of-age story explores the challenges of adolescence in an honest, heartfelt and sometimes humorous way. Quirky kids will see themselves in this sequel as Grape navigates school and new friends.

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