About the BookAfter her younger brother's death from a heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy moves to a town that was devastated by a school shooting four years earlier, where she must navigate different kinds of grief.
This book is a gift to the culture. --Amy Schumer, writer, actor, and activist
After her brother's death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school--especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family's own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.
Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.
Isler's debut novel bravely dives into the long-term recovery and age-appropriate exploration of trauma on children through the eyes of 12-year-old Lucy. After her brother, Theo, dies from a lifelong heart defect, Lucy's parents move her to a new town. Her first day of seventh grade is lonely and isolating but not just because she is the new kid; the students in her grade survived a school shooting four years earlier and have a special bond, and she's having a tough time finding a way in. She once found solace in math, but when she joins an after-school mime class, Lucy learns to express herself in different ways. She finds that unlike math, life doesn't always have absolute answers. Isler consulted mental-health professionals and gun-violence survivors in writing this book and provides young readers a safe way to learn how to navigate grief and explore this topic safely. Like Jewell Parker Rhodes' Ghost Boys, Isler's novel takes the timely and realistic topic of gun violence and turns it into an engaging story without sensationalizing it.--Booklist-- "Journal" (9/15/2021 12:00:00 AM)
Queensland, VA, a town devastated by a mass school shooting, is perhaps the toughest place tween Lucy Rothman can ever imagine moving, especially as a new member of the affected seventh grade class. Though her mother obsessively redecorates, Lucy's new room, which belonged to one of the victims, feels weighed down by memories. Lucy is enveloped by death; her parents wanted a fresh start after losing her younger brother to a heart condition. Wrecked, alone, and with aloof parents, Lucy finds solace in math and logic. A friendly math teacher and his improv class prove instrumental as she works to stitch her classmates, herself, and her family together again. Isler's novel provides a look at the turmoil that is felt years after a tragedy. Her original yet devastatingly plausible scenario will entice tween readers, who will connect with the authentic narrator. Lucy's thoughts, conversations, and thought-provoking math equations offer an emotional glimpse into the disrupted lives of the victims. Some readers will relate to Lucy's inaccessible parents and further discover ideas on mending such relationships. Despite the weight of the premise, the book is accessible, and there are even occasional chuckles and hints at young romance. Short chapters and a well-paced plot will keep tweens reading and also create a day-by-day approach to the challenging topic. The ending feels simplistic and perhaps a bit too easily resolved but provides a hopeful outlook. -VERDICT Isler nose-dives into the perhaps taboo topic of school shootings, yet breathes healing, change, and math into the emotional -catharsis.--School Library Journal-- "Journal" (9/1/2021 12:00:00 AM)
Eight months after her younger brother Theo dies from a rare heart condition, 12-year-old Lucy Rothman's grieving parents need a fresh start, so the white Jewish family moves from Maryland to Queensland, Va., a town still deeply affected by a school shooting four years prior. Seventh grader Lucy's tightly knit new classmates speak openly about their losses while she, feeling estranged from the group, keeps hers a secret. Feeling distanced from both her parents and peers, Lucy is lonely, and math, once her favorite subject, no longer brings comfort. It isn't until she befriends another white loner, Avery--the school shooter's much younger half sister--that Lucy begins to heal. When the girls take an after-school mime class together, Lucy comes to realize that, though grief takes many forms, those affected can form connections. Showing a keen understanding of loss, Isler's compassionate debut is written with stark honesty, showcasing various responses to tragedy, including Lucy's parents' inability to talk about the past, the students' collective need to share their stories, and encouragement of therapy. Back matter includes an author's note and discussion questions.--Publishers Weekly-- "Journal" (8/9/2021 12:00:00 AM)