Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Order of Things

Langley, Kaija. The Order of Things
June 6, 2023 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

April and Zee are more like family than friends. They live on the same floor of an apartment building in Boston, and frequently hang out at each other's places. Zee's mother is long gone, and his father, a postal worker, encourages his violin playing. April has never had a father in the picture, and her mother often works nights at a warehouse. She has recently started to bring a coworker, Robin, home for family dinners, and it seems odd to April to see her mother with someone. Zee is attending a performing arts school for 6th grade, so the two are not in school together for the first time. April wants to play the drums, but doesn't feel confident in her abilities, compared to Zee's talents with the violin. She's taken lessons, and even asked Zee's father to work with her. She tries to practice, and is slowly gaining a bit of skill, but something is wrong with Zee. He's often short of breath, and even passes out in the practice room at school. He tells April not to bother his father about it. When Zee dies of sudden cardiac arrest, everyone is devastated. Zee's father is inconsolable, and even stops delivering the mail, which April finds piled up in his apartment and decides to try to deliver by herself. While she is doing that, she realizes some of what is going on with her classmate, Asa, who is frequently absent and often looks uncared for. April's mother throws herself into work and takes comfort in Robin's presence. April just feels lost, and isn't quite sure how to handle her grief. How will April be able to continue with her life while still grieving her best friend? 
Strengths: This novel in verse is particularly lyrical, and I loved the inclusion of April and Zee's musical aspirations. April's reluctance to play in public is realistic, and the tension created by Zee's abilities was intriguing. The idea of found families is a great thing to include in middle grade books, since so few of my students have traditional nuclear families. For those who want it, there is a lot of description of the funeral and the aftermath. Asa's story line about the problems her parents were having was compelling, and learning that she often stayed home from school to care for siblings is a sad reality for many middle school students. April's school was supportive, and she had some particularly understanding and helpful teachers. 
Weaknesses: I am never a fan of grieving parents who completely fall apart, and I was particularly disturbed that Zee's father had mail that never got delivered. This issue is never resolved; he eventually leaves town after abruptly cleaning out the apartment. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who liked Geithner's If Only or Conklin's Counting Thyme. 

No comments:

Post a Comment