O’Connor landed a backside bluntslide with this one! Sibby is living with her grandparents after her parents sold their house. Change is hard, but is made even harder when you don’t talk about your feelings. On her first day of school, she meets Freddie, who became a bully over the summer. Life changed for him too, and he didn’t handle change well, either. When Charlie Parker Drysdale, Hannah, and Esther are bullied by Freddie and Jake, Sibby stands up for them. The last thing she will do is be bullied.
One skateboard challenge, a pumpkin-chocolate muffin, and a forced lesson on emotions later, and the group of eleven-year-olds learn that they have more in common than they thought.
There are so many great lessons shared in O’Connor’s book that it just feels right. Two of my favorite lines come from Sibby’s grandmother, Nan, and her substitute teacher Mr. MacDonald. When discussing changes, Nan says, “There’s always a way forward, Sibby, even if it feels like you’re going backward in order to get there.” The day after Freddie’s life changed again, Mr. MacDonald filled in for their teacher. His lesson was on emotions and what scares them. What scares Mr. MacDonald is being a good teacher. As he says, “Teaching isn’t just about a subject, at least to me. It’s also about the hard stuff, like helping a group of friends stay friends.”
Change is hard for a lot of people, and how Freddie and Sibby reacted to their changes is very relatable. Sometimes, when life changes quickly, we forget who we are and what we stand for, but with a little bit of time, understanding, forgiving, and help from friends, we often find our way back.
This book deserves more than five stars!