Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book review: Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

This book is an excellent lesson in personable and friendly authors being their own best marketing. I was setting up a table at NEIBA (the New England Independent Booksellers Association's annual trade show) when an author at another table I was walking by, stopped me and asked a simple question as she'd never done any promotion for her book before and her publisher representative wasn't there yet and she just needed some simple help. She was so nice and friendly and so appreciate that I helped her to unpack her books, and I also ended up taking a copy which I've now read, which I wouldn't have otherwise.

This is a thoughtful and well-researched story about Molly. She has a couple of friends who don't like each other much, her little brother's hedgehog is annoying, and she wants to win her middle school's slam poetry contest. But she has a secret. She really wants to win the poetry slam contest because she thinks that it means her mom will come back home. She's been transferred to a one-year job in Toronto, but since her parents separated 6 months before she left, Molly is becoming increasingly worried that her mother will not come back and this move will turn permanent. 

Molly's always been neat and organized, but her worry causes those tendencies to spiral out of control until Molly is having a full-on OCD episode. she's very responsible and does well in school, so when she can't turn in quizzes and can't get to school on time because of her OCD (although she doesn't really know what it is yet), that compounds her anxieties, making it even worse.

I love that Molly is a very ordinary kid, not a quirky oddball type. Those kids are great too, but this might allow her story to be even more universal for kids who might be having similar issues. The author has included a note in the back about experts she consulted, and a list of books she referred to in her research, which can provide additional resources for families as well. Her baby brother is endearing and her older sister is believable with romance problems, and not an obnoxious tyrant. Her father is preoccupied, as a single dad working as a journalist, which means on deadlines and not salaried (I'm sure he was feeling a lot of pressure to bring in income, especially as his estranged wife's job after the year is up is very up in the air.) The family's problems were entirely ordinary and the kind of problems a lot of kids face, and yet also overwhelming, as Molly's best friend might move away, and they get into a very big fight. But the book doesn't awfulize and it doesn't preach. It's well-written, and Molly is easy to empathize with. This book is perfect for any family where a child might have an issue, every school library, and of course just in general for kids around this age, as they might encounter a friend or classmate with OCD tendencies. 

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I got this book for free at NEIBA, the New England Independent Booksellers Association's annual trade show.

1 comment:

Stacie said...

I like that the character is an average kid whose stressful family situation created anxieties in her. I see that so often at our school and kids think something is wrong with them when it really is just their situation.