BooksForKidsBlog

Monday, July 19, 2021

Falling Apart: Stick With Me by Jennifer Blecher

Izzy and Phoebe had been best friends since their moms used to plop them down on the floor with squeeky toys so they could have some mom-talking time. But since mean-girl Daphne came into the picture, it seems Phoebe has no time for anyone else, certainly not Izzy. And to add to her gloom, there are those low-voiced conversations between her Izzy's mom and dad, always about money. Or not enough of it.

So much for Best Friends Forever and Happy Ever After.

Then Mom announces she's signed up with "Vacation Rentals" to make some extra money, and Izzy learns that Mom is "decorating" the upper floor of the garage, not to rent out to people to stay in while they visit nearby Boston, but for her family to stay in while the vacationers take over the house. Mom is thrilled with her first rental, a couple with a preschooler who need surgery in nearby Boston, and Mom adds, they have a daughter just Izzy's age who is a serious ice skater. Mom points out that Izzy used to love skating. And that's not all! For winter break, she's signed up Izzy and the skater for Theatre Camp together, where Phoebe and Daphne will doubtless be the leading ladies. Thanks, Mom, Izzy thinks.

The idea of staying in a small-town bed-and-breakfast doesn't please Wren either. She NEEDS the school break to prepare for the regionals, to work on her double lutzes with her trainer every day, not play "Let's Put On A Show" with a bunch of strangers. But at the first day of drama camp, Izzy and Wren hit it off; Wren is sharp enough to recognize Phoebe and Daphne's mean-girl tactics right away, and Izzy agrees to show her the local pond that may be frozen over enough for skating. Still, it's tense time for both families, and, with the example of her ex-BFF, Izzy is slow to warm to the purpose-driven Wren, who's not exactly thrilled with spending her practice time in a town too tiny to have an ice rink. And when she quarrels with her parents and with Izzy, Wren decides to take things into her own hands, and skates in hand, slips off in the twilight toward Willowy Pond.

Wren reached her left toe pick into the ice. It went deeper than she expected. The crack ran from the entry point of her toe pick to a few feet away. She lowered her body to the ice to distribute her weight. Its cracks splintered and grew. But it held. For now.

Wren didn't have a phone. Maybe her mom would call her name and realize she wasn't home. Or maybe not.

That was only half the problem. The other half was that nobody knew where she was.

But when Izzy hears that Wren is missing, she knowsinstantly where she must be.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, in Jennifer Blecher's taut tale of friendship found, as Izzy manages to get her new friend to safety, in Stick With Me (Greenwillow Books, 2020). Author Blecher is skilled with writing about the ups and downs of tweener novels, and this one appeals especially to the troubled re-alignments of friendship that middle graders face.

Says School Library Journal, "Blecher has a clear gift for writing about young girls who live on social margins, and the particular struggle of wanting to belong while staying faithful to one's self. Izzy and Wren are relatable heroines with flaws, impulses, and dreams that will resonate with young readers."

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