288p. Chronicle. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452163581.
Gr 5–8—A companion piece to Holt's well-received House Arrest, this compelling novel-in-verse reintroduces readers to the same characters some 11 years later. Levi, who was a sickly infant with a life-endangering condition, is now a cocky, energetic tween with a story of his own to tell: "Who am I?/I am Levi./I am small/but fast/I am smart/but dumb./If you move the letters/of my name around/you get live." He is chafing at the overprotectiveness of Timothy, his big brother, who grew up playing a role beyond his years as Levi's caretaker, and his mother, who once struggled to keep him alive while trying to make ends meet. Levi is tired of being wrapped in cotton wool. He wants to run, play, climb trees, and assert his independence. And he wants, more than anything, to box: "When I hit the bag/BAM BAM BAM/it stopped all my thoughts/and I'm just…in the moment…/arms/fists/feet/moving/moving/an animal/not a boy/a beast/a different/me." How these three characters bob and weave and ultimately grow together into a greater understanding makes for an accessible story that will not only resonate with middle graders who are living under the shadow of a life-threatening illness, but for all tweens who are eager to establish their independence. Levi isn't always likable as he pushes to assert himself but he is always relatable. Well-placed concrete verse adds visual interest and further adds to the kid appeal.
VERDICT This character-driven narrative should be an easy sell, especially where House Arrest was popular; fans of thoughtful sports novels-in-verse (e.g. Kwame Alexander's The Crossover) will likely enjoy this as well.

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