Beginning sixth grade can be particularly difficult as the newest student in a class of children that has known each other for years. Isaac is determined to make friends this year, so he does the best he can to fit in. In an effort to make friends, Isaac chooses to keep much of his existence a secret—especially the fact that he sometimes spaces out for several minutes with no explanation. When his teacher, Mr. Arnold, sets an assignment to determine a goal to achieve by the end of the year, Isaac finds himself wanting to discover the truth about his condition even if his mother is not immediately approving of his desire to do so. It is not only students who are having challenges in this book, though, and as the narrative continues, readers see that life is not easy no matter how old one happens to be.
This is the second book in the Peeps series, but the first installment does not have to be read in order for this one to make sense. Intended as a transitional story from shorter, series fiction to more complex middle grade novels, this book focuses more on action than on character development. Action keeps the momentum of the story moving forward quickly, and short, succinct chapters will resonate with readers who are growing ever more confident in their reading skills. The story itself alternates narrators between two of the characters, which gives readers insight into each of their unique experiences as the story unfolds.
Readers who are transitioning from shorter, illustrated middle grade fiction to longer, more complex texts, are sure to find this book to be accessible. The writing overall is clear and entertaining, easily connecting readers to the events in the book. A sweet homage to the literary classic Viola Swamp (from the Ms. Nelson series) is found in the story, making this book a delight for adults to read alongside their kids because of the nostalgic quality of this addition. Conversations around mental illness and seizure disorders are included in this book, which stand out from other texts that often overlook these realities in favor of happier, easier storytelling options. This book, however, helps to normalize some of these experiences and encourages readers to see them through a more accessible lens. This is a charming story for newly independent middle grade readers who are looking for a light introduction to a more challenging level of literature.
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