AUTHOR: Laurie Morrison
CATEGORY/AUDIENCE: Middle Grade
RELEASE: April 9, 2019
PUBLISHER: Amulet Books
LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book— all opinions are my own.
Annabelle has been struggling through middle school and things have felt off with her best friend Mia lately, but when she’s invited to swim with the high school team over the summer, she finally feels like she has a place. She’s winning races, making cool new friends, and getting attention from a cute high school boy. But she finds herself having to make difficult choices about her friends, her family, and what she’s willing to do to fit in.
Up for Air is a charming, realistic coming of age book perfect for readers transitioning from middle grade fiction to YA. Annabelle is on the cusp of eighth grade and is self-conscious about her body changing, experiencing her first crush, growing apart from her best friend, and worrying about not being good enough. Annabelle struggles in school and this novel is full of reminders that everyone learns differently, and that it’s okay to seek resources, support, and accommodations.
Laurie Morrison beautifully handles a number of complex themes around family, friendship, and self. Annabelle has a positive, loving relationship with her stepfather; Her dad is a recovering alcoholic and Annabelle is trying to decide if she’s ready to have him in her life again. Annabelle’s father’s addiction is presented in a destigmatizing way and he’s not portrayed as a “bad” parent. The characters in this novel all feel so real, and I was so sad to say goodbye to Annabelle at the end of the book. Young readers will relate to Annabelle’s fears of not being enough, and her desire to fit in while also being herself. Up for Air deserves a spot in every MG collection!
Look for Up for Air on May 7!