Holiday House. Feb. 2020. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823445523.
Gr 3-7–After barely escaping the gale-force winds of a tornado with his best friend Sydney, what else could possibly go wrong for sixth grader Isaac Fitch? Quite a lot, apparently. For starters, he still struggles to fit in at school and won’t have his mom’s sage advice, because she’s off on a two-month business trip to China. Having moved to rural Ohio from New York, his father’s lackluster interest in Ohio State football is an oddity in a town that oozes Buckeye pride on game day. To top it all off, his classmates call him “Itch” because he has a chronic itching condition called idiopathic angioedema. Isaac’s job at Mr. Epple’s pheasant farm normally brings him relief from his social acceptance issues, but even that becomes complicated when he’s pressured to steal one of Mr. Epple’s pheasants. Add to this a sandwich switch at lunch which causes Sydney to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance due to her food allergies, and you’ve got stress in overdrive. Isaac is desperate to do whatever it takes to set things right again. While Farquhar, an Ohio State alumni, lays it on heavy with football game day fever of the Midwest, her comedic skills keep the reader from being bogged down with football jargon and terminology. The author’s lived experiences of managing her own idiopathic angioedema and her daughters’ food allergies gives her firsthand knowledge with chronic illnesses such as the ones Isaac and Sydney have.
VERDICT A heartwarming story that encompasses serious issues such as bullying, chronic illness, and peer pressure while navigating the awkward years of middle school. Fans of Gordon Korman’s Restart and Jacqueline Davies’s Nothing but Trouble should enjoy the symmetry of circumstances in this title.

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