Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Still A Work In Progress

Volume Twenty Two in the Books That Matter Series

Author, Jo Knowles, is the master of books that matter. Her new middle grade novel, Still A Work In Progress, proves to be anything but that. Much like See You At Harry's (Volume Five in the Books That Matter Series), there is a clear before and after to this book. The story opens with Noah, a seventh grader going about everyday activities with his two best friends, Ryan and Sam; his older sister, Emma; her dog, the Captain; the school's hairless pet cat, Curly, who wears various handmade sweater vests; and his parents who live by Emma's ever growing vegan food rules. Throughout the beginning, Noah hints at a scary problem under the surface of his everyday life and refers to it as "the Thing They Don't Talk About."

With his two best friends becoming more interested in girls and Emma's well being a growing concern on everyone's mind, Noah often feels unnoticed. He's the one who is not supposed to cause waves, not give his parents any trouble, and not complain about Emma's demands when it comes to food. He's the one who blends into the background, only allowed to shine through his artistic abilities.

Still A Work In Progress is heart wrenching and Noah's devastation is palpable. It moved me to tears several times, but also made me laugh out loud in other moments. It balances humor and everyday life with the heartaches and struggles of a family just trying their best to help a loved one through a serious illness. But this is not Emma's story, it is Noah's.

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