Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There is so much that I loved in this middle-grade book, especially about its central character, Alice. In a world where there is so much unkindness going on these days, Alice's kindness, especially to younger children, is an important thing for middle-graders to read. Those years can be so hard, and Alice, who has just turned thirteen, shows it is not just okay to be kind, but that it can help you weather the storm of your own troubles to be kind to others.
A classic parentified child, Alice is the oldest of three. Her mother had a terrible car accident, six major operations afterward, is slow to recover, suffers from depression and her marriage to Alice's father has failed to the point that she asks him to move out. Alice processes all this from the perception of a thirteen-year-old girl. She blames her mother, even as she tries so very hard to care for her mother. She blames her father for giving up and for not sticking up for his family after he and her mother decided to settle down and have three kids. She tries to channel her anger, anxiety and sorrow into being productive- by training twice a day with her swim team and babysitting for her neighbors who have a toddler, Timmy, and an older child, Piper, who is nonverbal. Piper and Timmy's older half-brother Owen is in high school and visiting his dad's family. While Alice enjoys a good rapport with Joanna, the younger neighbor children's mother (Owen's stepmother), their father distrusts Alice because of events at the open of the book. The ambient distrust and painful fragmentation of her family (her father did indeed move out, and her younger twin brothers are spending the summer with her aunt) are very hard on Alice. She's not taking it all quietly, however. As Alice forges her way through her summer, with her new best friend Harriet in tow, she parses the infinity between how her life ought to be and how it presently is.
This book is in the category of things that are wise and wonderful. I strongly recommend it for summer reading.
I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Chronicle Books and NetGalley, and a paper review copy.
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