The Other Side of Perfect

Scholastic. Apr. 2024. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781339002859.
Gr 4 Up–Previously published in 2022 in Canada as Autumn Bird and the Runaway, this middle grade novel is the heartrending and hope-filled story of Cody, a victim of domestic abuse by his alcoholic father, and Autumn, the victim of bullying by her wealthy and popular friends. Coauthors Florence and Scrimger unfold the hidden stories of both tweens after their lives intersect one fateful evening. Autumn Bird, whose family is of Cree descent, has been raised by her physician mother and artist father to honor their heritage and to help others through community service. White Cody Stouffer, whose mother is incarcerated and whose father is an abusive, racist alcoholic, has been raised to humiliate others and think only of himself. Cody decides to run away after experiencing more physical abuse from his father. On her way to meet a friend, Autumn stumbles across someone who has collapsed and realizes it is her classmate Cody. Autumn brings Cody home and hides him for the night. Their unlikely friendship grows as Autumn’s parents take Cody in and help him flourish in a safe and encouraging family environment. Both children struggle to fit in and sometimes lose themselves in the process, but they ultimately find their true selves. Through this poignant coming-of-age story, readers will rally behind Autumn and Cody as they stand up for themselves, open their hearts, and share them with the world.
VERDICT This realistic fiction novel touches on tough topics with aplomb; a worthy addition to middle grade library collections.

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