Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cybils Middle Grade Finalist: "Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy"

You've got your problem novels, and you've got your mysteries. Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught is both.

Footer Davis has two things...well, three...depending on how you look at it...three...or four...things going on in her life. Just a couple
involve her mother, who is bipolar, and the neighbor kids who are missing after the grandfather, with whom they lived, is murdered and their farm is burned down. Mom's condition took a turn for the worse soon after the murder, and she needs to be hospitalized, not for the first time.

That's plenty for a book. But, as I said, Footer has a lot of other things piling up around her--a neighbor who suffers from PTSD, a friend with cerebral palsy who has a sister with a problem I wasn't clear about, and her own concern that she could be developing the same condition her mother has. Then there are a couple of cases of child abuse, and a father in prison, and a neglectful mother. So much going on is a lot for a reader to juggle. Lots of distractions.

The child dealing with a parent's mental illness was a positive for this book, and the mystery actually is interesting. Overall, though, I preferred one of Vaught's earlier titles, Big Fat Manifesto, which deals with just one problem/situation.

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