Saturday, June 20, 2020

Five Thing About Ava Andrews

Dilloway, Margaret. Five Thing About Ava Andrews
June 9th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ava has a heart condition that adds to her anxiety, so she is generally quiet and reserved in school. When her best friend, Zelia, moves away from San Diego to Maine, Ava is crushed. She has a supportive family, including older brothers Luke and Hudson and a grandfather, Jichan,  and step grandmother, Nana Linda, but she misses having someone by her side in school. Her father runs a Cotillion program that offers classes for sixth graders, and she is supposed to take part in the program. Her father sees that she is miserable, but says that if she wants to go to visit Zelia the next summer, she must not only go to the Cotillion, but participate. She finds it hard to participate in school as well, even though her teacher is very supportive and aware of her 504 plan to deal with her anxiety. He encourages her work, but insists that she work on a group project with Ty, even though the two get off to a rocky start. Luckily, Cecily, who did improv with Zelia, goes out of her way to befriend Ava and even encourages her to join the improv group. Once there, Ava finds out that gentrification is threatening the local theater and businesses in the same way that a previous project pushed her grandfather out of his own building for the Cotillion. With the help of her Grandma Linda, Ava gets involved in saving Navegando Point, and in doing so, makes some new friends and is able to deal more effectively with her anxiety.
Strengths: Ava has a very supportive family who help her find ways of coping with her various challenges. She is seeing a therapist, and some of the techniques for coping are described. Her older brothers are particularly appealing in the way that they both annoy and care about their sister. The relationship with Zelia is absolutely textbook-- the two distance themselves when they feel lonely and hurt, but ultimately are able to make up. The improv is interesting, I'm always a fan of a good evil developer, and Nana Linda was a delight. I have to keep reminding myself that Cotillion is a real thing; I can't say I've ever heard of a student attending one, even though there is apparently a program in a nearby town. It's one of those things that hits me like golfing-- I can just hear my mother's voice sneering about it as something rich folk do. Hard to overcome our early training.
Weaknesses: I could have used some more details on why gentrification is always bad. There are a lot of places in Columbus where it would be a good thing. Probably just a difference in West Coast and Midwest perspective.
What I really think: I think I will purchase, mainly because a growing number of my students have 504s for anxiety.
Ms. Yingling

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