Sunday, April 12, 2020

Out of Place, by Jennifer Blecher

Cove is crushed when she learns that her best friend Nina is moving away to New York City.  Cove has lived her whole life on Martha's Vineyard and never left the island.  Her mother, for reasons never fully explained, refuses to leave.  As a result, it is unlikely that Cove will ever be able to visit Nina.

Without Nina, there will be no one to defend her at school and no one to be her friend.  And while Cove has to endure some fairly intense bullying at school, she finds there are plenty of new friends to make and things to learn. One of those friends helps Cove learn of an audacious way that she might earn a free trip to New York City.  She knows that she has to take the leap, even if it means risking everything she believes in.

A surprisingly sophisticated middle reader that covers bullying, PTSD, and socioeconomics, as well as a familiar story of friends being separated.  My favorite part was a subplot about a retired seamstress teaching Cove how to use a sewing machine (I'm a sucker for the forgotten-master-teaching-the-young-acolyte tale).  Vivid characters and lively writing make this complex story surprisingly enjoyable.  Blecher knows how to make her points economically and the result is an enjoyable book that delivers a big punch in minimal pages.

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