- Original Title: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
- Edition: Advance Reader’s Edition Paperback, 266 pages
- Published: March 8, 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux
- Characters: Anna Collette, Frances Collette, Marnie Collette, David Collette, Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker, Sarabeth the Irish Stepper
- Rating: 4/5
Description: In this powerful and buoyant YA novel, a thirteen-year-old girl learns to navigate the shifting loyalties of friendships in middle school and deals with challenges at home.
The beginning of the eighth grade is not what Anna thought it would be. Her lifelong best friend has ditched her for the cool kids, and her mom is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Anna finds herself where she least expects to: living with her dad, his young new wife, and their baby, and starting a new year at school without a best friend. With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna learns that sometimes you find what you need to pull you through in the most unlikely places.
I received this Advance Reader’s Edition as a prize from Alexa Loves Books.
Okay, I don’t typically enjoy middle grade books because the writing is usually too simplistic, so I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about this book when I read the synopsis and saw that Anna was only 13 years old, but surprisingly, I really, really enjoyed this story! The main protagonist, Anna Collette, is mature for her age but not unbelievably so. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age, a little more mature than the people around me, intelligent but unmotivated and distracted, and sarcastic as f**k (that last bit hasn’t changed much). Additionally, I was very close to Anna’s age when my mom was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I have that personal text-to-self connection to Anna and I truly relate to her struggle. I think Natasha Friend did an excellent job representing what it feels like to be that age and process those emotions. There’s a few paragraphs in the advanced reader’s edition that compare her mother to a burner control knob. It sounds silly out of context, but I thought that the comparison was very powerful and accurate…
If my mother had a burner control knob, I could set her however I wanted. If, say, she started staying up too late, watching QVC and ordering a bunch of wine glass necklaces, I could turn her down to 6. If I found her in the bathtub with a washcloth over her face, listening to Anatevka on her boom box, I’d turn her up to 4. Talking too fast? Down a notch. Monotone voice? Up a notch.
At that age, and even as an adult, it gets frustrating watching your parent or loved one in this continuous up and down cycle that you nor they seem to have any control over.
Moving on, I also loved the secondary characters! I love that they each had their own stories (Shawna’s eyebrows, Marnie’s change of heart, Sarabeth’s…everything). Their subplots were woven quickly into the main plot, and helped give them their own distinct voices and personalities, but it didn’t distract from Anna and Frances’s main story. Alas, everyone needs friends like Sarabeth and Shawna at that age… or any age!
I would definitely recommend this book! It took me just a little over three hours to read the whole thing in one sitting, which I had no intention of doing when I decided to start.
- One must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness.
- Why is it so hard for me to form words and push them out of my mouth?
- I hope that Bob gives Harper a real chance. I hope that when she calls him up and asks him out he says yes. And I hope that–after spending time with her–he falls in love not just with her personality, but also with her height, her crazy curls, and her big nose. On second thought, a guy who can’t come up with any adjectives other than “beautiful” probably doesn’t deserve Harper. She is too smart for him.
- In a weird way, my mother feels like a stranger to me, even though I have known her my whole life.
- “You know how depression hits?” She takes another drag and blows the smoke out slowly. “It’s like an avalanche. No warning. You’re just knocked off your feet. You reach for a ledge…no ledge. You reach for a branch…no branch. You just keep falling. When you hit the bottom, everything around you settles like concrete. You’re up to your neck and you can’t move. All you can do is wait.”
- We are brave, we are rebels, we are dreamers who dare to dream.