The Day I Was Erased

Scholastic. Jun. 2020. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338589566.
Gr 3-6–This middle grade spin on It’s a Wonderful Life follows the story of 12-year-old troublemaker Maxwell Beckett. Maxwell loves his dog, Monster, more than anything, and he (usually) gets along with his goody-two-shoes sister, Bex. He has a best friend, Charlie (to whom he isn’t very nice), and a close relationship with an elderly neighbor, Reg, who has dementia. But Maxwell’s parents fight all the time, especially about him, because Maxwell is always getting into trouble. When he ruins a special event for the whole school, Maxwell decides that the world would be better off without him, and he wishes that he had never been born. Maxwell’s wish comes true, and he finds himself in a world where he never existed. His parents are divorced, his sister is the family troublemaker, his school is run-down, his homeroom teacher is heartbroken, and his dog is dead. Maxwell sees how important he actually is and how unappreciative he has been of his loved ones. Together with Bex, Charlie, and Reg, he works to find a way to unerase himself. Dementia, divorce, bullying, and grief are touched on in poignant and age-appropriate ways. In the end, Maxwell owns his behavior and apologizes to the people he has hurt, providing an excellent example for young readers. As a bonus, interesting historical tidbits in the story have the potential to spark curiosity and further research.
VERDICT While the plot is predictable, this humorous, character-driven story is filled with depth. Recommended.

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