Cameron Kids. Mar. 2022. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781951836580.
Gr 5 Up–Ava’s eighth grade year goes with the tumble of the waves she loves to surf as the young Persian girl battles the weight of her mother’s expectations against her love for music and her best friend, Phoenix. When Phoenix’s cancer comes back, Ava’s grief takes over as they fight against the odds and for every moment with each other. Farid’s poetry rides the page like a wave, charting the ups and downs of Ava’s emotions. Small, thoughtful illustrations are peppered throughout—a beating heart, a wave, a mixtape—further making this tale feel fully devoted to Ava’s consciousness. The verse format makes this text extremely accessible, and readers will be delighted to find elements of Ava’s Persian heritage and 1980s childhood also woven throughout.
VERDICT A lyrical novel in verse bearing the weight of childhood cancer and loss, but also with the lift of coming into one’s own as an early teen and finding the right wave to ride. A solid addition to middle school libraries; encourage older readers to take a chance on it, as well.

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