Originally published in School Library Journal, May 2019.
Gr. 9 & Up – Recently diagnosed with arthritis, 14 year old, Ricky Bloom, now lives in “the Batch Pad” with her dentist father, and attends a new middle school in Philadelphia. Ricky begins “the Charade,” ditching school to avoid the pain of getting there and the bullying. Instead she spends her time sleeping, taking hot baths, and daydreaming about Julio, a cute drummer. Embarrassed by her pain and limitations, she prefers to keep to herself; the only person she chooses to see being her older sister Dani, a college basketball player who lives with her girlfriend of three years. When Ricky’s truancy is discovered, she risks having to take 9th grade over again, which would bring more unwanted attention to her already miserable, angry days. Back to school (IRL this time), she finds unlikely support from an English teacher and an adorkable guy named Oliver, a cancer survivor. These relationships and a new doctor who actually listens to her provide Ricky a new sense of hope, allowing her to become a better version of herself. Silverstein’s debut young adult novel provides an accurate portrayal of both the challenging relationship between parents and teens, as well as the frustration of living with a chronic illness. Not recommended for younger teens to the mature language. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy this contemporary coming of age story featuring a resilient protagonist and charming plot.