From the moment Jessica arrives, life is never quite the same for Tom and his seventh-grade classmates. They learn that Jessica was in a fire and was badly burned, and will be attending St. Catherines while getting medical treatments.From the moment Jessica arrives, life is never quite the same for Tom and his seventh-grade classmates. They learn that Jessica was in a fire and was badly burned, and will be attending St. Catherines while getting medical treatments.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2006-05-22 Abbott's (the Secrets of Droon series) stirring novel centers on Tom Bender, who describes himself as a "sweaty, fat kid" who feels invisible much of the time. ("People don't really talk to me much in school or notice me.... My mother says it's because I don't `get out there.' ") The seventh-grade narrator's only friend is Jeff, who seems angry quite often since his father moved out. Tom has a crush on Courtney, a beautiful and popular classmate, and he imagines himself as a superhero who can rescue her from danger. But it isn't Courtney who needs rescuing. Jessica, who has been badly burned in a fire, joins their class at St. Catherine's when she moves to town to undergo skin grafts at a nearby hospital. "I remember wondering how someone looking like that could even be alive," Tom says the first time he sees her. None of the students attempts to get to know Jessica. Tom, too, initially keeps his distance, though he (unlike Jeff) holds her hand during class prayer time. When he brings Jessica her homework on a day she is absent, the girl poignantly opens up to him and he, in turn, shares his secret thoughts and superhero fantasies with her. Though fleeting and fragile, Tom's connection to Jessica changes his perspective on himself, his peers and friendship, and underscores the reward of reaching out to another of getting "out there." This novel may be brief, but it leaves a big impact. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2007-08-13 Kenin is believable as Tom Bender, the seventh-grade narrator of this brief, affecting tale about how a young burn victim shakes up the lives of everyone around her. Tom, who describes himself as a chubby, sweaty kid that nobody really notices, inadvertently draws attention to himself by being the one person who shows small kindnesses to new classmate Jessica, a girl badly disfigured in a fire. Tom and Jessica begin to bond when Tom delivers her homework on a day that Jessica has been absent from school. But just as the friendship starts to take hold, Jessica and her family abruptly leave town to seek treatment for her at a hospital in a different city. Though Tom had known Jessica for only a short time, he now knows he's forever changed. Kenin conveys Tom's transformation, largely in a final conversation with Jessica, with an authentic-sounding emotional poignancy that is hard to forget. Ages 10-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2007-06-04 When burn victim Jessica Feeney becomes the new girl at school, everyone avoids her except for fellow social outcast Tom Bender. "Though fleeting and fragile, Tom's connection to Jessica changes his perspective on himself, his peers and friendship, and underscores the reward of reaching out to another," PW said in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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