- 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.