Courage for Beginners

A fascinating look at going through the perils of middle school with a mother who has agoraphobia. | A book review by Newbery and Beyond

This book is a really interesting look at entering middle school, losing old friends and gaining new ones, and–more unusually–having a mother with agoraphobia.  When Mysti’s father gets in an accident and has to spend weeks in the hospital, Mysti, her little sister Laura, and her mother have to fend for themselves.  At the same time, Mysti’s best friend Anibal is holding a social experiment, in which Mysti is not allowed to talk to him.  Her new friend Rama tells Mysti to stop letting Ani push her around, but Mysti is busy trying to take care of her mother and sister, all the while worrying about her father and navigating the pitfalls of middle school.

The writing in this book is hilarious.  The quote on the book cover (on the left) perfectly captures the character of Wayne, Mysti’s nerdy friend from the Island, the table where the middle school misfits eat lunch.  The writing captures the emotions of middle school and the difficulty of having a mother with mental issues in a humorous, touching, and realistic way.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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