The Weight of Everything

Carolrhoda Lab. May 2023. 240p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781728475356.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Sarah should be focusing on her artwork, friends, and classes at her Austin boarding school. Instead, she is starting her junior year at Richards High School, struggling to keep afloat as she takes care of her brother Steven, her father, and the ever-growing stack of bills that are now her responsibility. If her mom were still with them, she would make sure Sarah wouldn’t have all these heavy responsibilities—and her dad wouldn’t have fallen apart. As Sarah juggles her classes and tries to make money on the side for bills, she momentarily allows herself happy moments thinking about her sweet classmate David, who has befriended her brother Steven and offered her comfort and support. But as Sarah’s father falls deeper into his depression over the loss of her mother, Sarah wonders if she will ever be able to focus on herself again. Readers will become immersed in Sarah’s story and perhaps recognize what it feels like to push aside one’s feelings and wishes in order to forge ahead. The portrayal of Sarah’s dad as he struggles with his grief using alcohol is both tragic and realistic. Sarah’s mother, whose death provides the catalyst that sets the story in motion, also provides some of the greatest support to Sarah, who uses her mother’s beliefs and work in her own art—something that helps bring her family even closer.
VERDICT An honest and heartrending look at grief and loss, and at the often-unspoken weight teens must carry in silence.

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