All Three Stooges

240p. Knopf. Jan. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780399551765.
Gr 5–8—Noah and Dash are best friends. They both enjoy iconic comedy routines such as The Three Stooges, and Noah is fond of Dash's dad, Gil, who likes comedy as much they do. But both boys' lives are thrown into turmoil after Gil's sudden death. Dash retreats into himself, leaving Noah bewildered and frustrated that his friend has shut him out so completely. In his desperate attempts to reach Dash, Noah makes one bad decision after another which results in not only making things worse, but also has consequences for his own life. This novel is excellent on multiple fronts. The plot paints a realistic picture of grief and its effect on young people who may have never experienced loss. Noah is a funny, often-irreverent, imperfect character to whom readers will relate. The story weaves in details about the Jewish faith and preparation for Jewish teens' bar/bat mitzvahs, and portrays a number of nontraditional family units, featuring households headed by two women and well-functioning blended families. The author also addresses, in a humorous way, important issues about mental health.
VERDICT A satisfying story that will appeal to all middle grade readers regardless of belief system or church affiliation.

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