Sorry for Your Loss

Orca. Oct. 2021. 264p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459827073.
Gr 3-7–When her relationship with her best friend, Sam, came to an abrupt end, Evie decided to give up friends. It’s easy to do; she is bullied by classmates because her parents run a funeral home. Evie is proud of her parents’ business and wants to be a funeral director herself one day. She’s excited when her mother asks for her assistance with a grieving family with a son who is Evie’s age. Oren is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed both his parents. While Evie’s attempts to comfort Oren initially backfire, the two become close, despite Evie’s stance on friendship and even though Oren has not spoken since the accident. Soon it’s clear Oren is helping Evie as much as she is helping him; the two need each other to process their trauma. Their evolving friendship is enjoyable to read about. This contemplative novel sensitively depicts a straightforward and compassionate view of death and grieving and explains the Jewish customs for burial preparation. Character development is the strength of the novel, especially in emotionally charged moments. This highly discussable novel navigates complex feelings gracefully. It should be noted that Evie has kept much to herself, including the real reason why her friendship with Sam ended, the level of bullying she experiences, and that her parents have placed perhaps too much responsibility on her. All major characters read as white, and all are observant Jews.
VERDICT Despite the heavy topics this unique novel addresses, it features humor and warmth and characters young readers will care about.

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