Lenny's Book of Everything

320p. Knopf. Apr. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524770129.
Gr 4–7—Set in Ohio from 1969 to 1977, this novel tells the story of Lenny Spink's family and community, including her mother Cindy, her absentee father, her maternal grandmother Nanny Flora, and her brother Davey, who has a form of gigantism. While Cindy works two jobs to cover necessities, Lenny attends school and Davey stays with Mrs. Gaspar, a Hungarian neighbor who has magical dreams. Lenny and David spend hours poring over an encyclopedia set, dreaming of becoming beetle experts and traveling to Canada, respectively. When Davey starts to experience growing pains, the school nurse encourages Cindy to get a second opinion despite the expense. During Davey's testing and treatment for gigantism, the community unites around him. However, much in Lenny's life remains confusing. She struggles with feeling ashamed of Davey and adrift when he and her mother travel for treatments. Lenny secretly tries to uncover family connections that would lead to her father. Eventually, Lenny learns that people are not always what they look or claim to be. Foxlee's latest is a story of learning how to explore the world with limited resources, the grey areas of human morality, the family that one creates, and grief. Although the struggles that the Spink family faces are often practical in nature, Foxlee's writing is infused with a hint of magic, just as the animals and places that Lenny and Davey read about fill their lives with curiosity and joy.
VERDICT This is a well-paced story about perceptions versus reality, and although many readers may deduce the story's end early on, the fully-fledged characters and poignant handling of grief make this a general purchase for most collections.

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