Emma-Jean Lazarus did, indeed, fall out of a tree… both physically and metaphorically. Her sore ribs recovered quickly from the tumble. However, her “fall” from a well-ordered, logical world into a less certain world of changes, growing up and relationships, was not so quickly resolved.
Emma-Jean was the smartest girl at William Gladstone Middle School. She was also known as one of the strangest girls there. Emma-Jean didn’t care about that, knowing that “strange” can mean “unique” and “remarkable”. She was quite satisfied with her life, until she found Colleen Pomerantz crying in the girls’ room and decided to help her, thereby setting in motion a complicated, unforeseen chain of events. Suddenly, Emma-Jean’s life – both at school and at home - became just plain …. messy!
Lauren Tarshis’ first novel is a very enjoyable read which contains a world of wisdom. It has much to say to girls of middle school age about self-acceptance, empathy, honesty, courage and dealing with bullies. The characters are very realistic, and the author uses a “spare” style of text that appears quite polished.
What’s the best thing about this book? The answer: a sequel is planned!
An interview with the author is included at the back of the book.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years of age.


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