Written by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Most people have experienced that feeling of being unwanted at the “popular kids” table in the school lunch room. But some people are faced with difficult episodes like that daily. One such girl, Kiara, is the main character in this excellent newly released middle grade contemporary novel.
Kiara is afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome. She is confused by things she doesn’t understand, and turns to Mr. Internet for answers to all of her questions. The largest one being, how do people make friends?
She tries everything, but just is not accepted by the other students. Her father cares for her deeply, but is no help to her because of his loneliness and sorrow over his wife’s decision to go to work for several months in a distant state. So when a new family moves in down the street Kiara decides to try her new friend-making techniques on Chad and his little brother.
Things go pretty well as they play together and ride bikes around town until she learns the secret of what goes on in their home. It is a home she is not allowed to enter.
Amid adventures, dangers and rescues Kiara learns that everyone has a special gift or talent that makes them unique. Through the eyes of her new found friends, she is finally able to see her own unique gift.
This present day experience story is a fantastic read for a sixth grade student and beyond. They will find it full of issues they face every day. For the same reason, it would be a great read aloud in any literacy program by a teacher or librarian. It will strengthen all literacy skills while also introducing empathy and understanding for people with differing needs. A discussion about what to do when faced with illegal issues or worries about what friends might be experiencing at home could also grow out of reading this book in a book club situation.