No Matter the Distance

HarperAudio. Feb. 2023. 406p. $27.99. ISBN 9780063007024.
Gr 3-7–Her father calls her “Lucky Penny.” He’s not wrong. Penny, 11, has cystic fibrosis, but her CF team—doctors, nurses, therapists, dieticians—remind her regularly “You’re so lucky,” especially with such loving parents, indulgent older sister Liana, and best friend Cricket. And then as spring break begins, Penny discovers a dolphin swimming in the family’s backyard creek. Penny and Rose, as Penny names her, develop an extraordinary bond that deepens when Rose is diagnosed with a lung infection by a local marine biology team just as Penny faces another CF hospitalization. Luck seems to be waning, with reminders of Cricket’s impending uprooting to hours-away Virginia. Versatile Dutt conveys Baldwin’s North Carolinian setting, convincingly overlaying a gentle southern accent throughout; she’s especially endearing as indulgent Liana with her French-inspired pet names. An author’s note revealing Baldwin’s own CF diagnosis is not to be skipped.
VERDICT Dutt deftly ciphers Baldwin’s most personal fiction to date.

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