Praise for Focused:
* "Clea's likability, persistence, and ability to bounce back from adversity is truly inspiring. Author Gerber, who has ADHD herself, is able to compassionately and realistically convey the experience in this sweetly appealing story." Booklist, starred review
* "An accurate and compassionate picture of growing up with ADHD is the icing on the cake of this well-told novel." Kirkus Reviews, starred reveiw
Praise for Braced:
* "The author doesn't diminish Rachel's difficulties, but at heart her story is uplifting . . . Comparisons to Judy Blume's Deenie might be inevitable, but Rachel stands admirably on her own." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "A masterfully constructed and highly empathetic debut about a different kind of acceptance." Booklist, starred review
"Rachel's story is about more than straightening a spine; it's about expanding the human heart. Braced earns its place on the shelf with other titles promoting empathy and compassion." Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky and Audacity Jones Steals the Show
"Alyson Gerber's Braced is a rare gem of a novel: intimate and engrossing at once. Rachel is the best kind of character vibrant and brave, struggling and strong, and most of all impossible not to root for and relate to. A lovely and deep book that will get readers right in the heart." Corey Ann Haydu, author of Rules for Stealing Stars
"Braced is an honest, inspirational story about perseverance in the face of adversity. Readers will come away wishing they could be best friends with Rachel and believing that they, too, are stronger than they ever expected." Alison Cherry, author of The Classy Crooks Club
"Rachel gives us an inspiring look into coping with the challenge of bracing that many of us have trouble putting into words. Join Rachel as she discovers her voice in her brace! This book is an important read for all Curvy Girls and anyone who loves and supports one!" Leah Stoltz, founder and president, Curvy Girls Foundation
Seventh grader Sarah Weber loves playing basketball with her two BFFs, Ryan and Emilia. But her body is changing, making the former star player feel slow on the court and causing her worry about being cut from the team. Since Sarah’s mother, who has a complicated relationship with health, sometimes skips meals, the girl decides to follow suit, taking her coach’s advice to cut junk food and bread. Though constantly hungry as a result, Sarah starts playing better and liking the way her clothes fit. When the boy both she and Emilia like asks her to be his cooking partner for a school contest, Sarah keeps their meetups a secret for fear of losing Emilia’s friendship. Soon, tensions have escalated with her friends and mother, her eating habits—or lack of them—are drawing unwanted attention, and Sarah no longer knows what or how to eat. Gerber (Focused) portrays Sarah’s bodily discomfort and eating disorder with realism and compassion, highlighting both her desire to be healthy and her denial when things move beyond her control. Though the hopeful ending comes a bit abruptly, this affirming novel offers a normalizing message about discussing body image and mental health. Ages 8–12. (May)
Navigating adolescence isn’t a piece of cake.
Dorito-loving seventh grader Sarah Weber is a standout basketball player on her team even though she’s had some bad practices lately. Thanks to puberty, her body keeps changing, and, on top of recent awkwardness in her relationships, she feels overwhelmed by this. Another thing she doesn’t have control over is her household food situation: Sarah’s mom is controlling about food, sometimes forgets to feed her dinner, and what little there is to eat in their kitchen is restricted to things she deems acceptable. Sarah’s dad works long hours and doesn’t seem to notice what’s going on. In an effort to help her game and gain back some control, Sarah begins to obsessively monitor her food intake. Thankfully, her friends and coach advocate for healthy, intuitive ways of eating, and they help Sarah address her disordered eating. The book surrounds the protagonist with a determined support system and does not place blame in a simplistic way. Gerber constructs a straightforward structure: A health problem becomes known, a solution is proposed, and then it works. Although real life is rarely so neat and tidy, the book supplies a positive representation of constructive approaches to an often misunderstood condition. Authentic basketball scenes and Sarah’s developing crush on Benny, her health class partner who later becomes her teammate in a cooking competition, round out the story. Sarah is presumed White; Benny is Persian.
Pragmatic and valuable. (Fiction. 9-13)