A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is about a child dealing with the impending death of her best friend's grandmother, who has raised her. Her death doesn't happen in the book, but its inevitability hangs over it.
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What's the story?
Edwina, called Eddie, likes to make lists, and she wears different colored rubber bands on her arm, which she snaps to remind herself of habits she wants to change: storing food in her cheeks, leaning back in her chair, and so on. She wants to keep the world tidy and organized. But the reason for the purple rubber band she keeps secret.
Her best friend is Sally, who lives with her grandmother, Willie. And Willie is dying. Willie knows it, Eddie knows it, and Sally knows it too. But Sally deals with it by turning away, by purposefully forgetting and rewriting her past. Eddie is a good friend, and she wants to help, but she doesn't know how. The world just refuses to stay simple and neat.
Is it any good?
For all the grimness of the subject, this is a lovely, quiet story, simply told. And it's most notable for all the things it isn't: no villains, no suspense, no tearjerking, no clueless adults, no deathbed scene -- in fact, no death. This isn't Willie's story, though she is the catalyst. It's the story of two friends trying to come to terms with grief and waiting for the inevitable changes that come to every life.
Despite its short length and simple language, it's a story of complexity: Nothing in life is as simple as we might like it to be, and every character, major and secondary, is three-dimensional. Eddie's mom chooses always to tell Eddie the truth, as hard as that sometimes can be, but she really pays attention when she tells it. Each character is, in her own way, unresolved, as is the story, which ends before the end. This is all just a not-so-simple way of saying this isn't just a story -- it's real.