Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home

Little, Brown. Sept. 2019. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316491068.
Gr 4-6–After years in foster care and shelters, 12-year-old Pavi finally has a secure, happy home life with mom Marjorie and brother Hamilton. She’s even a straight-A student. Still, Pavi’s time in the foster system has taken its toll. She feels “tiny, smaller than the space between protons and neutrons,” and helping fellow foster kids adjust to their placements makes her feel “bigger.” For her professional services—research on their new families and tips on fitting in—kids pay Pavi in snacks and school supplies. Work for her newest client is pro bono: young Meridee, who’s scheduled to be placed in the same nightmarish home Pavi had been in years ago. To save Meridee, Pavi risks everything she’s achieved at home and school, enlisting Hamilton and his friend Piper in her scheme. Debut author Farr creates a smart, savvy, relatable character in Pavi. The girl is vulnerable yet not above using others’ sympathy for her foster background to her advantage, especially to get what she wants from adults. Hamilton and Piper are perfect foils; his caring stability balances Pavi’s impulsiveness, and Piper’s glossy entitlement epitomizes all the privileges Pavi never had. The narrative zips between Pavi’s home, school, and foster center as she concocts one plan after another to help Meridee, culminating in an action-comedy climax that gives Pavi unexpected insight into her former foster parents’ lives.
VERDICT A fresh, feel-good story that will make readers cheer and appreciate the home and family they may take for granted.

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