Booklist starred (July 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 21))
Grades 4-7. Almost-12-year-old Amber Miyamoto hates germs, loves to draw, and can’t figure out why her father left 6 years ago. She is also half Italian and half Japanese, which makes her feel “mixed up like a salad” and isn’t helping with her anxiety over starting middle school. Other things bothering her include Bella, her little sister; having a “cavewoman” phone that doesn’t have Internet access; the swirling black hole inside her where her dad should be; maybe liking a boy; and being targeted by a school bully. When Amber has a “genius idea” that goes awry, she has to learn to confront her fears and mistakes in order to regain control of her life. Shevah’s debut novel is a charmer, and it not only supplies some much-needed diversity to the middle-grade fiction scene but also addresses the emotional impact of living in a single-parent home. Amber’s amusing self-awareness, imagination, and drawings keep the tone light, and her true-to-life tween concerns (e.g., existing in an Instagram and WhatsApp dead zone, hating Justin Bieber) will resonate with many. While its humor and illustrations lend it Wimpy Kid appeal, its emotional depth makes it stand out from the pack. Molto bene!