Sunday, January 09, 2022

Code Name Serendipity

Smith, Amber. Code Name Serendipity
January 4th 2022 by Razorbill
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sadie lives with her moms and her older brother Noah, who constantly gives her a hard time. Her best friend has moved away, and while they can still text, it's not the same, especially since she feels lonely at school. When there's no French toast for breakfast one weekend morning, it is a bad sign; Sadie's grandfather has been struggling with memory issues, and is coming to live with Sadie's family. In some ways, this is great. Sadie can talk to him when she gets home from school, and the two have a good time together. But even she can see that his memory is failing, and there are a couple of scary incidents because of this. At the same time, Sadie finds a dog outside who seems to call to her. She can communicate telepathetically with Dewey, as the dog calls herself. Since one of her moms is a vet, Sadie knows she's not supposed to approach strange dogs, and eventually Dewey shows up in her mom's shelter. At school, where she struggles with a learning disability she tries to hide from her classmates, she has at least made anew friend in Macey, a girl with whom she had not previously gotten along because of an earlier misunderstanding. Macey has struggles of her own, and the two are soon hanging out. Macey even tries to help Sadie with a plan to get Dewey out of the shelter, but when that falls through, her gradfather comes to the rescue. He sets up a shed near the house as a "puppy palace", and they bring Dewey home, lying to the shelter and saying she is their lost dog. They make plans to eventually tell the moms, but how long can they keep up the ruse before they are found out?
Strengths: The fact that Sadie has two moms is a nonissue, although she does explain it to Macey. Macey's mother is deceased, so she had her own family information to exchange. I adored Macey's grandmother and thought it was great she was more formal. Sadie's friendships were realistically portrayed. Her learning difficulties are addressed in a mostly ocnstructive fashion, and her mothers are supportive. Noah is a jerk, but that's also fairly realistic. I'm always interested in stories with good grandparents, and this would be great for fans of Gebhart's There Will be Bears, Acampora's How to Avoid Extinction, Cavanaugh's When I Hit the Road, or Medina's Merci Suarez Changes Gears.
Weaknesses: I'm never a fan of people lying and then getting their way. The fact that the grandfather also lies makes this worse. I also wish that assisted living facilities weren't portrayed as horrible choices for older adults with memory issues, although this did at least spin things positively later in the book. With my mother, the choice was either assisted living, or continuing to ler her live with my father, who would let her do things that would lead to her falling on her face. Assisted living was an immense improvement to her quality of life. 
What I really think: This is definitely speculative fiction; there is repeated communication between Sadie and Dewey. I will probably pass on purchase, but I can see this being popular in an elementary school library. 
 Ms. Yingling

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