Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Story of My Life

Expected Publication: September 1st, 2012
The Encyclopedia of Me
By: Karen Rivers
Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 9780545310284

A is for "Tink Aaron-Martin," "Aardvark," and "Amazing" in this wonderful alphabetical novel!

Tink Aaron-Martin has been grounded AGAIN after an adventure with her best friend Freddie Blue Anderson. To make the time pass, she decides to write an encyclopedia of her life from "Aa" (a kind of lava--okay, she cribbed that from the real encyclopedia) to "Zoo" (she's never been to one, but her brothers belong there).

As the alphabet unfolds, so does the story of Tink's summer: more adventures with Freddie Blue (and more experiences in being grounded); how her family was featured in a magazine about "Living with Autism," thanks to her older brother Seb--and what happened after Seb fell apart; her growing friendship, and maybe more, with Kai, a skateboarder who made her swoon (sort of). And her own sense that maybe she belongs not under "H" for "Hideous," or "I" for "Invisible," but "O" for "Okay."

Written entirely in Tink's hilarious encyclopedia entries, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME is both a witty trick and a reading treat for anyone who loves terrific middle-grade novels.


   Tink Aaron-Martin has been best friends with Freddie Blue Anderson forever, getting into trouble more times that she can count.  Now that she has been grounded, yet again, Tink decides that she's going to write her own encyclopedia.  As she writes, her friendship seems to be falling apart because Freddie wants to be popular more than she wants to be BFFs.  Also they both like Kai, the new boy next door to the Aaron-Martins, Tink begins to skateboard with Ruthie (an unpopular girl Freddie can't stand) and Freddie starts hanging out with a girl who bullies Tink.  The family situation Tink is dealing with only seems to be getting worse, with everyone focused on her brother Seb's autism and expecting her to cope with life on her own.  Can Tink figure out a way to stay true to herself, help her family realize she has feelings too and get the guy against all odds?  Anything can happen in the summer before middle school...  I liked this book more than I thought I would.  I usually end up feeling very 'meh' about middle-grade books, but this one was very funny and relatable.  Even for a young-adult like me!  Tink's family life is slightly wacky and off-balance, with most of the attention on one of her older brothers, Seb, who is autistic.  She and her best friend are growing apart due to the changes they're both making with their personalities and goals.  Kai is an interesting addition to the dynamic, being the first boy Tink has really liked that she's willing to fight for.  And Ruthie was pretty awesome for an incoming sixth-grader.  This book's encyclopedic format was something that took getting used to, but I honestly think that it moved the plot along for me, in a way that the traditional structure might not have.  A cute, funny, heart-trending coming of age story.  My main complaint is how long it took Tink to see that Freddie wasn't worth her time anymore; the excuses she kept making for her got on my nerves.  I thought it was very well-written and it is one that I will be giving to my eleven year old cousin for sure! :)

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is September 1st, 2012.*

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