Thursday, December 26, 2019

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean is really book smart, but she doesn't really understand her classmates.  With the odd way she talks and the way her mind flits around, they don't get her either.  Up to now, they've given each other a wide berth, but that changes in a fateful bathroom encounter between Emma-Jean and Colleen.  Colleen's having trouble with another girl in their class and Emma-Jean realizes she can help!  However, the help that Emma-Jean comes up with end up making everything even more complicated.  To fix the mess (which literally ends up with Emma-Jean falling out of a tree!), both girls will have to expand out of their comfort zones.

A sweet middle reader about building friendships, communicating with others, and the importance of kindness.  The general positivity of the story is a welcome anecdote to mean girl stories.  I enjoyed having a break from the doom and gloom of the other books I've been reading lately.

Emma-Jean is a fascinating character.  Somewhere on the Autism Spectrum (as apparently her late father was as well), she forms an interesting and sympathetic narrator as she tries to understand the people around her.  But Tarshis, while occasionally exploiting Emma-Jean's misconceptions for humor, never lets the story exploit her heroine, who in the end proves to be more insightful than any of us imagine.

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