Twelve-year-old Wren has a growing amount of drama smothering her up at every turn. Her parents have divorced and now Dad lives in Brooklyn with a new wife and twin babies. Mom is a nurse who decides moving to a new town will be good for both her and Wren. Moving still means when not in school Wren lives with Dad’s new family—a 2-home reality many middle graders will understand.
Wren’s growing passion is for theatrical make-up. It’s a way to escape the world. She watches YouTube videos by make-up artist, Cat FX, and starts practicing on her mom and a new friend. She’s quite good at it and gets the job of make-up artist for the school’s production of Wicked.
You might be already guessing where this plot is headed, but you’ll be way off. Readers will pick up on frequent clues that Wren’s mother is addicted to pain killers. Poor Wren doesn’t put all the pieces together as her mom lies, steals, and misses work. It’s one excuse after another and Wren is left having to believe the made-up stories Mom always uses as a back-up.
Many times Wren wants to say something to her Dad, Mom’s co-worker, or friends at school. Instead she pushes forth, learning make-up techniques for the play and fending off an innocent new crush. I wished she had found a trusted adult, but it actually makes a sense she didn’t. Kids will be less reluctant now to search for help after reading Wren’s first person narration. Don’t take on your problems alone.
I know quite a few 12-year-old boys who will hear the word “Make-up” and avoid this one more than homework. They will be encouraged to know this is special effects make-up with comic-style and fantasy laden faces. The real story is one of addiction, family, and friendship. A story that is hard to put down.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: October 12, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 304
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT…
- Kai is the little guy who has a crush on Wren. His hesitant approaches in gaining her attention are full of reality. Things don’t go as planned but a surprising train trip brings understanding.
- The tough topic of addiction is handled extremely well for the intended audience.
- I’ve read so many MG books recently based on a missing or dead parent it was great to see this not a part of this plot. It’s all about Wren dealing with being a kid with two families.
- The depiction of home life for many 12 year olds and up: Left alone while parents are working. It’s a realistic picture and one many will find familiar.
- By book’s end you’ve gained so much empathy for Wren you might be like me and hope for a sequel.
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR
My twelve middle grade novels are about smart kids facing real challenges with humor. All books are written with the partial cooperation of my cat, Luna, and my dog, Ripley.
(For the full bio visit Barbara’s informative and fun author web page)
I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Comments are welcome below and be sure to visit all the other MMGM posts today.
Pingback: MMGM for September 27, 2021 | Always in the Middle…
Great review, thanks. I have this in my TBR stack of books and I’m looking forward to reading it. I saw the play Wicked on Broadway years ago and have a deep appreciation for the make-up people who apply it night after night.
I agree that kids will relate to living in two households. Thanks for the great review.
I like that the Wren is interested in becoming a make-up artist — sounds like a fun addition to the story. The themes are particularly interesting and I do think kids will relate to living in two households. Glad that addition/mental illness is also addressed. Will look for this book.
What an interesting storyline. I think, unfortunately, a lot of kids will relate to the two homes and the parent’s addiction. This sounds like a really good and important book. I’ll put it on my list. Thanks for the review.