Becoming Brianna
by Libenson, Terri

Told in alternating past and present chapters, a latest series entry finds brainy Bri wondering if she has taken on too much when she agrees to learn a new language, give a speech and organize a party while juggling drama at school and home. 15,000 first printing. Simultaneous and eBook. Illustrations.

Cast in a customary tumble of quick doodles, more finished sequential panels, and short bursts of prose in a hand-lettered style font, Libenson's latest middle-grade angst-fest propels 13-year-old Brianna toward her bat mitzvah amidst a whirl of friendship issues-along with lingering doubts about her religious commitment. An excellent student who is both a champion procrastinator and grudge-holder, Brianna chronicles bouts between her Jewish helicopter mom ("Queen of Guilt") and non-Jewish dad, as she wrestles with learning the requisite Hebrew prayers. At the same time, she stubbornly prolongs a falling out with her long-time BFF Emmie (last met in Invisible Emmie, 2017) and is inexplicably courted by queen bee Zoe. Lacing the dialogue with spirited banter and laying on the life lessons with a light touch, the author supplies her confused and unhappy protagonist with a not-quite-boyfriend, an amiable rabbi, and a cantor who all step in to deliver sound advice. All ends with party time . . . plus a climactic hora exuberant enough to leave everyone, readers included, smiling. Grades 4-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

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