A PERFECT MISTAKE is a perfect look at the challenges ADHD bring to a young boy. Max is in turmoil, blaming himself when his friend ends up in a coma. The enticing mystery of how it happened unfolds while the first person narration is honest and often gut wrenching.

Here’s the book jacket description:

Max wishes he could go back in time to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn’t remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He’s not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn’t going to make Joey talk to him again, or bring Will out of his coma.
When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered.


Thirty-five chapters keep the mystery going at a rapid pace with a few flashbacks to the terrible night it happened. The results are surprising and I never guessed at the eventual outcome. Yes, the perfect mystery.

A therapist helps Max with techniques to make living with ADHD a little easier. There are many helpful ones here for parents and young readers including tips on focusing, anger management, procrastination, and emoting. It’s tough when you seem alone like Max given his parents and older sister act like they have no problems at all.

While we learn about ADHD and its challenges, the focus here is on a compelling story. I’d call it a page turner, a hard to put down books when the next chapter is staring at you. One of my favorites so far this year!

BOOK BIRTHDAY: July 12, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 272


  1. Such great secondary characters. From the over the top but helpful Uncle Cal to Sam the girl who helps Max unravel the mystery. When you remember secondary characters like these you know you are in good story telling hands.
  2. Being tall for your age is something I know about. People assume you are either the tough guy or the next basketball superstar. Max has to confront his height in many memorable scenes.
  3. Max is a strong male protagonist and is something we need more in MG stories.
  4. The honest depiction of friendships in middle school.
  5. The characters are not perfect but the same is true for Max’s family. A great depiction of how you begin to understand the ones close to you.


Melanie Conklin grew up in North Carolina and worked as a product designer before she began her writing career. Her debut middle grade novel, Counting Thyme, is a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, winner of the International Literacy Association Teacher’s Choice Award, and nominated to four state reading lists. She is also the author of Every Missing Piece, A Perfect Mistake(2022),and her picture book debut, When You Have to Wait(2023). When she’s not writing, Melanie spends her time doodling and dreaming up new ways to be creative. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

(For more about Melanie and her books visit her website)


Comments are always welcome below!

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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6 Responses to A PERFECT MISTAKE

  1. Added to my TBR – sounds a great story, thanks for the review

  2. I’m super excited to read this book and have it on reserve at the library. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  3. msyingling says:

    Everyone seems to love this one. Another one I thought was fantastic was Haddix’s September The Secret Letters. I think that you will enjoy all the 1970s references as much as I did!

  4. I have been hearing great things about this book. I am curious (and worried) about the mystery and what happened in the woods. Definitely sounds like a book that will keep me turning the pages. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. Great review!

  5. carolbaldwin says:

    This sounds like a great book–I bet Elliott would like it!

  6. I like a good mystery. You said just enough to wet our appetites. Sounds like it has a great plot and characters. Thanks for sharing!

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