Operation Final Notice

Dial. Nov. 2022. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593109755.
Gr 5 Up–Best friends Jo and Ronny have a lot going on. Jo just received an invitation to audition for Maple Hill, a music academy that would help her advance her cello skills, and Ronny found an $878 bill labeled “FINAL NOTICE” for his parents’ car. Jo is immediately anxious about her audition; she has never successfully performed a solo. Ronny knew his parents had financial troubles since they moved from their townhouse to a small apartment, but he didn’t know it was this bad. A suggestion from their teacher works out in favor of both friends. Jo will perform at The Manor, a home for the elderly, and Ronny will accompany her for moral support. When Jo’s first performance goes awry, Ronny grabs the attention of the room while Jo is escorted off the stage. After seeing this display, the community director invites Jo and Ronny back to The Manor three times a week, to get Jo more comfortable on stage while Ronny provides company to the residents. In exchange, they will be paid $500. This starts Ronny down a path to earn the money his parents need. Will Jo and Ronny be able to solve both their problems? Told in alternating perspectives, this sweet middle grade story focuses on friendship, courage, and community. Readers will be rooting for Ronny and Jo the whole way. Both main characters feel authentic, and the story is fast-paced. Landis excellently wraps up the story realistically. Jo is Latinx; the race or ethnicity of other characters is not mentioned.
VERDICT A wonderful realistic fiction addition to middle grade shelves.

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