Falling over Sideways

272p. ebook available. Scholastic. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545863247.
Gr 6–8—Claire Goldsmith has been living a relatively cursed life, at least in her opinion. Her dance friends have all moved up a level, but she's stayed the same. Eighth grade is nightmarish thanks to mean girls and an even meaner boy. At home, her parents and older brother aren't exactly sympathetic to her plight. But one morning Claire's life goes from bad to worse when her dad has a stroke. Now Claire has to deal with dance and middle school drama and the emotional trauma that comes from watching her once strong father deal with the aftermath of his medical condition. The protagonist is a realistic 13-year-old; her struggles with bullies and friends and her attempts to get out of her brother's shadow are relatable. However, while the novel centers on the ways a stroke can affect the dynamics of a family, the story does not go very deep. The writing is only surface level; readers are told more than shown. The plot seems to meander among Claire's life at school, her dancing, and her situation at home, but a balance is never quite met.
VERDICT This novel may resonate with some readers but is more of a supplemental purchase.

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