Author: Bird, James
A middle-grade novel about a boy with an OCD issue and his move to a reservation to live with his biological mother.
School Library Journal (+) (06/01/20)
Booklist (+) (06/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2020 Gr 5 Up—Collin may be in middle school, but readers of all ages will relate to his journey of self-discovery. Collin is neurodiverse; he counts every letter that is spoken to him and compulsively says the resulting number out loud. This makes him a target for bullies. His father is cold and, after yet another blow-up at school, he sends Collin to live with the mother he has never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation in Minnesota. This move appears to be a terrifying life change, but it ends up being wonderful. Collin meets family, learns about Native customs, and becomes friends with Orenda, the girl next door. Through his friendship with Orenda, Collin accepts things about himself, learns to trust, and grows stronger both physically and emotionally. However, Orenda is terminally ill. Ultimately, he learns to give her strength in return. Collin finds inspiration in the books that Orenda introduces him to, specifically the novels of Adriana Mather. Ghosts, spiritualism, Ojibwe culture, and the ability to find wonder in everyday events all blend seamlessly into a powerful coming-of-age story. VERDICT This is an amazing debut full of heart, authenticity, and courage. A recommended first purchase for libraries serving middle graders and teens.—Claire Covington, Broadway H.S., VA - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2020 *Starred Review* Sent to live on a reservation with his estranged mother after his OCD gets him into hot water at school, Collin is faced with starting over again in Bird’s beautifully written debut. Collin’s condition, a rare iteration of OCD, compels him to count and announce the number of letters someone speaks when talking to him, which makes fitting in anywhere a challenge. Yet, he finds unexpected acceptance from the Ojibwe community with whom he now lives. There he meets Orenda, a girl with a secret and an unusual perspective of the world, with whom he experiences first love. Meanwhile, Collin tries new strategies to manage the bullies who tease him and gathers wisdom from some unlikely sources. This stunning novel features a protagonist whose candor readers will treasure, and Collin’s precocious and perceptive narration adds realism to the characters who populate his new life. Bird also enriches the narrative with seemingly magical elements sprinkled throughout the novel. Endearingly earnest and with a refusal to shy away from the tough parts of life, up to and including death, this fresh and imaginative story has touches of Bridge to Terabithia and is perfect for fans of Wendy Mass’ A Mango-Shaped Space (2003) and Eric Gansworth’s Give Me Some Truth (2018). Bird, himself of Ojibwe descent, has written an exceptional #OwnVoices novel not to be overlooked. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.